in the limelight – white lies…

White Lies

To Lose My Life

Fiction/Geffen

 

We have arrived. Enough of all the sweet talk. Tired of the accolades bestowed upon the four singles released to date. By now, you know the record went to number one in the UK charts and the NME tour is underway with the Soft Pack and Friendly Fires as I type. The question remains: Is this album really any good? The answer is below, Suede-heads, so let’s push things forward, shall we?

1. Death 5.01

The debut record begins with the debut single and what a single it is. I’ve spoken about the song before but let me remind about my feelings on it. Mega-single. Simply said. Dark, menacing but yet there remains a glimmer of hope. A light at the end of the tunnel, if we must add a cliche. It’s got what you want in a pop song. A great set-up, vocals that make you raise your head upon first line and then…the big chorus payoff. A nice little build-up to the most “rock” sounding guitars we’ve heard in a pop band in quite a while. One thing we’ve come to know about White Lies is that they know how to write anthemic choruses that stick to your gut and it all started here.

2. To Lose My Life 3.10

Speaking of anthemic choruses, it doesn’t get much better than Let’s grow old together and die at the same time! It should be noticed by now that this trio learned their music history well. You want to write a good record? Start it off with a bang. The title track and third single wastes no time in seducing your ears and keeping up the pace. This is a dark dancefloor stomper for shadow dancers everywhere. Goth kids, I’m looking at you! This is a song that will make you finally put away the Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy records for a while and tune into the present.  A love song for the hopeless. When there’s nowhere else to turn, we turn to each other and it’s all we need.

3.  A Place To Hide 5.02

Upon first listen, you’d start to think that this song would quite nicely on the second Editors record before realising this is much more immediate and intense than anything off that record. If nothing else, this song confirms that Harry McVeigh can really sing. The song continues the theme of the first two tracks in its examination of death and the impact is has on how one looks at life. We want to hide away from our past, our mistakes, the fact it will all end at some point… or in the context of the record: After staring death in the face with your fists clenched, the gravity of it all finally weighs you own and you realise you’re no different than anyone else. 

I need to lay off eating so late before bed…

4. Fifty On Our Foreheads 4.22

Yup. More darkness. More death. Fear sets in even more. This song features some of my favourite lyrics on the record.  For example: “We were a dozen to the project with a galaxy of questions and all we heard was lies about the truth – No choice but to be obedient like prisoners of war caught on the wrong side of morality and youth.” The song rides a wave of keyboards which remind of Movement-era New Order but on a more fully-formed scale. These boys learned their lessons well.

5. Unfinished Business 4.19

Single number two and quite possibly the darkest song on record. More death. It must suck to have been murdered by your girlfriend like that. Think about that the next time you dance to this song. Beginning with an eerie organ and McVeigh’s crackling croon, the song tells a tale of our protagonist visiting his love except for the fact he’s a ghost. If it’s any solace, it should go great in a goth club. One caveat though: It features the weakest chorus of the four single released to date.

6.  E.S.T.  5.04

One of the harder tracks on the record along with Death and one that saddens me the most. Somber doesn’t begin to describe this one. Our protagonist is on death’s door (what else?) and is telling his loved one he is leaving behind to carry on but keep him in their memory. Sung to a plodding beat if the line, “I’m only going where you’ll be someday so don’t say rest in peace in your prayers” doesn’t get to you then you simply have no pulse and that’s the end of it.

7.  From The Stars 4.53

Understand that I’m operating under the assumption that most of you have heard the singles to this point and vocally, Harry McVeigh reminds me of a young Julian Cope. If you don’t know who he is then go look up the Teardrop Explodes and come back to me. For the rest of you lot, the comparison I feel is more than justified and it really shows here on From The Stars. The song itself is a solid midtempo track that keeps wiht the overall theme of the record but shifts to a third person point-of-view telling of a rich man wrestling with his personal demons after appearing indifferent during a funeral earlier in the day. 

8. Farewell To The Fairground 4.18

The fourth single taken from the record and this one does not speak about death! This one is another for the shadow dancers in the club swaying and pumping their fists in the air to another great chrous. The song decries the deterioration of a town and all the suburban dreams that went with it. I take it back. I guess this song does have to do with death, after all. My bad. 

9. Nothing To Give 4.12

After all that, we finally come to a slower piece. The comedown from FTTF, if you will. Nearing the end of the record it almost appears that we’ve reached the point of no return. Hope is gone. Energy is better off being saved then spent in trying. Regrets are many and time is short….and not she’s leaving. 

10.  The Price Of Love 4.39

or…another song about death or… the record’s last gasp, whichever you prefer.  Love the strings in this one and the highlight is Harry’s plaintive vocal especially in the final chorus. Great way to end the record.

 

So once again. Is this record any good? Let me say this. This is one of the best debut record I’ve heard in quite a while. The best thing I can say about it is that it doesn’t sound like a debut record. White Lies have written a record that most bands wouldn’t get to until album number three when their development matures to the point where they have found their message and are able to display the confidence in the music and themselves. White Lies have already done it. The record has the songs, the hooks, the lyrical maturity and that intangible quality to make the listener fall in love all over again. The last trait is one that has been missing for quite a while and one that even an optimist like myself was fearing was gone forever in this day and age of blog favourites and the disdain for the slow burn. 

I could go on and on about this record but let me just say that I don’t expect this record to sell millions in America. It’s too dark, too multi-faceted, too English and too intelligent for a brand of listener who is more interested in Miley Cyrus and American Idol than a band unafraid of examining the more morbid and macabre side of life. 

One more thing. Are they original? Heavens, no. That small issue is rendered meaningless when a band manages to write songs as good as these here. The production by Ed Buller and Max Dinghel capture the essence of what made the dark post-punk bands sound so good. If you were a kid who grew up idolising bands like the Comsat Angels, Joy Division, New Order, the Wake, the Chameleons, the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes, meet your new favourite band. They simply have the goods. 




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2 Comments

  1. Because of the reasons you talk about (and more) I simply adore White Lies. They may not go very far in the States, but I have welcomed them to the exclusive club that is NEW bands I love. I look forward to their show here in Philly in a couple of weeks. I think they’ll catch on. But by that time, I’ll probably be over them. 😀

  2. This record is unforgettable. It’s up there with “Is This It”, “Turn On The Bright Lights”, “The Cold Vein”, “A Certain Trigger” and “Silent Alarm” as far as recent debuts that I still play over and over. I honestly think they will go down one of those bands we grow to love and etch a place in our hearts.

    Billy.


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