Review Summary: A very promising debut, solid foundations from which White Lies can become bigger and better.
Around this time every year, pretty much all music publications are largely taken up by pages on up-and-coming bands they think will make it big in the coming year, the “Ones To Watch”. As is always the case with this kind of thing, some succeed and some don’t. Sometimes, the real stars of the approaching year are not even mentioned, such is the pace of their rise to stardom. This year, one name that has often come up is White Lies, a trio from London, who may be familiar to fans of the UK indie scene, albeit under a different name. The band originally formed at school, going under the name Fear Of Flying, playing quirky indie pop and releasing a couple of singles. They themselves were one of the up-and-coming bands a few years ago, but decided to change their musical direction along with their name. They now go under the name White Lies, and play noticeably more downbeat and mature music that would have sounded out of place coming from their previous incarnation. On the evidence of their debut album, To Lose My Life
this should prove to be a good career move.
If you don’t already know what to expect, then the name of the first song, Death
should provide some clues. This opener was released as a single, and is a terrific way to begin the album. Initially only comprising of simple mid-paced verses and choruses, the song eventually builds before, exploding into a huge wall of beefy guitars and synths. It takes a while to get there, but when the song comes to life in the final two minutes it is well worth the wait. The title track is just as good, again built around simple verses driven by an excellent bassline, before unleashing a chorus far more immediate than that of the previous track. Lyrically, these two songs along with much of the rest of the album deal with fears of death and morality, something that apparently plays a huge part in lyricist Charles Cave's thoughts. Although this can make themes predictable and tiring at times, it can also pay off wonderfully. The chorus of the title track, Lets grow old together/And die at the same time
is particularly likely to stick in your head after just one listen, something that cannot be said for the throwaway indie pop of Fear Of Flying.
These first two songs display everything that makes White Lies what they are. Very audible, driving bass lines, basic yet effective drums, icy synths and most noticeably the calm, steady sounding voice of vocalist Harry McVeigh. McVeigh’s vocals in particular have drawn many inevitable comparisons with Ian Curtis due to his deep, haunting voice. The nature of the music may also be behind these claims, but the band whom White Lies bear the closest resemblance to are The Killers. Whilst McVeigh’s vocals initially sound Curtis-like, closer inspection reveals them to be far more similar to those of Brandon Flowers. The music too bears a lot of characteristics The Killers are known for, catchy, synth driven indie rock with infectious choruses and a tense atmosphere. This is not to say that White Lies are merely a Killers rip off band though, they are far more than that. In fact, Death
and the title track are easily as good as if not better than anything from Day & Age
Unfortunately, White Lies cannot maintain the quality of the first two songs throughout the rest of the album, though this should not be particularly surprising given the quality of those tracks. That is not to say that the rest is bad however, it is far from that. A Place To Hide
has signs of all the previously mentioned influences, though never strays too close to any, ensuring that the song remains thoroughly enjoyable. Unfinished Business
, another single is solid enough, whilst The Price Of Love
proves a successful way to end the album. Probably the best of the remaining tracks is the relatively upbeat Farewell To The Fairground
, which will surely be one of the contenders for the next single, as it is one of the more catchy and accessible songs on offer. Whilst songs such as From The Stars
are less noteworthy, there isn’t a poor song on To Lose My Life
, suggesting that the preferred formula clearly works. There aren’t too many moments of brilliance, but the consistency they have found here is a solid platform to build upon.
Despite having a few flaws, To Lose My Life
is an impressive debut album from White Lies. They may not have the most original sound ever put to record, but they do nevertheless pull it off far more convincingly than many that have come before them. Although they couldn’t spread it throughout the album, the first two tracks alone show that the band has massive potential. Maybe not enough to fill arenas as some have predicted, but certainly enough to promise bigger and better things lie ahead.
To Lose My Life
Farewell To The Fairground
The Price Of Love