Review Summary: Close to catchy, but could be bigger yet.
Despite the ridiculous climax to its release, To Lose My Life
is released pretty much every year. The Killers, Editors et al have been down the same road with their music, but it was just that there was so much hype overflowing from the year-to-year transitions for White Lies that it was probably an impossibility for the Londoners to not stir just a little bit of disappointment. They appeared on Jools Holland’s floundering show before the fuss started, went on to promote with some numerous shows, and sparked the interest of quite enough British publications. Inside the band, stark movements occurred from happy to sad, from Fear of Flying to White Lies (the name change apparently significant news), and, inevitably, they grew up and became another post-punk act. So, unfortunately, To Lose My Life
has plummeted from its build up.
A statement about as bombastic as the band’s music attempts to sound prophesises White Lies as a dark, doom ‘n’ gloom outfit who are, just to cite their influences, taking music to depressing routes. It’s music more contained in their roots, of course, but if that’s the case, “Death” should be an introduction that channels a long-winded Joy Division escapade. There have been comparisons, but this isn’t exactly the case; while White Lies certainly sound fresh from the subdued synth and all too familiar for their guitar work, “Death” sounds more in touch with “No I In Threesome” – Interpol’s very happiest. The group live nostalgia through other bands that once lived on nostalgia. “A Place To Hide”, for instance, takes a loud, wacky swipe at reality that comes right out of The Killers book (and, for some keyboard mix-up, even sounds not too wide of Keane). The Londoners sort of give a shy effort, and along with all the other blockbusters of smashing guitar-chords – “Farewell to the Fairground” the largest track to never sparkle during chorus – it’s sort of too light-hearted for Harry McVeigh to get grandiose over.
And yes, it’s overflowing with blockbusters, but it’s the bravado that comes out best. “Unfinished Business” bursts open with that so important epic atmosphere, and from then on becomes a song segmented into parts of slow synth ballad, loud pop choruses and hammering guitar pauses. It’s all strung together by McVeigh’s voice, which here works perfectly because he’s crying ridiculous contradictions (You’ve got blood on your hands and I know it’s mine/So let’s dance like we used to
) and acting overly passionate. He gives “Unfinished Business” a bonus to the powerful new wave sound White Lies should just own up to.
This sound is no fluke, because in EST he’s going through it all again, packing in lyricism about old stereotypes and wailing Now be a good girl and do what you’re told
. The effect, the same: an overflow of emotion for a fairly emotionless backdrop of spiky synthesiser, bass and little else. For the central tracks of the album – these two and “From The Stars”, made of nothing but a daydream – White Lies create blissful music that proves they can attune their marathon sound. For the rest of the album, all is left is a dreamy haze. “The Price of Love” almost reaches the same heights, with the 20-piece orchestra making in-out entrances to prove just how huge To Lose My Life
is. But because McVeigh can’t quite make his music (or fellow musicians) sound so cogent and larger than life, he’s left crying every word to make up for it. He becomes the only one who sounds up for it, and that isn’t enough.