White Lies
Ritual


2.0
poor

Review

by Knott- EMERITUS
January 15th, 2011 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The game's up.

Praise where praise is due, since what I expected to be saying about White Lies' second album was that it was more of the same banal sad-sack post-punk they forcefed tight-jeaned British teenagers on 2009's To Lose My Life. I've quite thankfully been forced to adopt a new strategy. In a way though, it's much, much worse, because at least with that formulaic look-how-epic-and-depressed-we-are approach their flaws were perceived as a result of the copycat sound and uncreative songwriting, but now, oh dear. Ritual is somewhat different, in ways ambitious and daring, but still just as unimpressive, leaving only one possible conclusion: White Lies simply aren't that good.

I mean, this is still obviously and unequivocally the same band that created To Lose My Life, which is half of the problem - though constancy can be a virtue, here White Lies change shit up in an obvious attempt to sound fresh, but it's painfully obvious that the band is still the same tired 3rd or 7th dilution of Joy Division through Editors and Interpol and... you get the picture. Everything newly added to the songs is a gimmick, a cheap trick, even when it's the cut's whole infrastructure, like the tinny electronics of opener 'Is Love'. Behind it all is the same beauty-in-pain atmosphere and dejected tone, and it actually seems more naked the more clothes it dresses up in.

During lead single 'Bigger Than Us', one of the album's actually anthemic tracks as opposed to the plethora of near-misses, the penultimate chorus dies as fast as it began to be swiftly replaced by bubbling electronics. These bubbling electronics are new to White Lies - they go in the tray marked experimentation. But all the band, and listener, are actually doing is waiting for the last explosion, the final chorus so clearly around the corner, comprising bombastic guitars and crashing drums. Therein lies the issue; all the new ideas are just empty brainstorms and slapped-on afterthoughts designed to make tracks feel sparkling or new but without the necessary conviction to make them organic parts of the song.

And this is the same across the board, the band paying lip service to ideas and techniques and never having the poise to pull them off - the most stark example being lyricist and vocalist Harry McVeigh. We'll leave aside the fact that he tries very hard to sound like Ian Curtis - it never did anyone else too much harm - but the lyrics on Ritual are terrible. McVeigh smacks of a lyricist who would love to possess the ability to condense epic, dark mindsets to a single line but can't, so he does it in five instead. There are sparks of moving expression, but nothing sticks; he says the only thing I've ever found / that's greater than it always sounds / is love is one of the better samples on offer but still one which suffers from the same nagging uncertainty in its matter-of-fact simplicity: White Lies are in no way as fucked up or genius as their idols, and it shows.

These things aside, it's impossible to dismiss Ritual as an outright failure - there are some grandiose and stomping moments scattered throughout, but they're surrounded by the less magnanimous shots of a band that is not necessarily bad, but never as good as it thinks or wants itself to be. These really are white lies, minor levels of artifice which peel off with a sorry degree of ease and reveal a robot going through very basic and travelled motions - a ritual.



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user ratings (113)
Chart.
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
robin EMERITUS (2.5)
commit to your lie....

Nagrarok (3)
Unchanged, White Lies walk down a very similar path with Ritual, one that sooner or later, they will...

related reviews

To Lose My Life

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
January 15th 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

whatever

Ponton
Emeritus
January 15th 2011


6143 Comments


is this a really popular release or something?

Digging: Emperor X - Western Teleport

Drsmith4
January 15th 2011


1735 Comments


Will Knott be checking this out.

Killer review.

robin
Emeritus
January 15th 2011


4438 Comments


british people care about this.

so me and adam basically.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 15th 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

NME care about it



it's not popular though no



2/5

crowing51
January 15th 2011


3501 Comments


Good review, band sucks. Whats with all the review for this anyway?

kanecooper
January 15th 2011


630 Comments


i dont care and i am british does that make me unique

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 15th 2011


25148 Comments


Def. not checking this out, great review as always

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

Nagrarok
January 15th 2011


8547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

is this a really popular release or something?




I was surprised as well to see the interested in reviewing this, I thought mine would be one of two, three at most (since AliW is going to post one too). Though obviously I like this a bit better, I agree with the points you make, excellent review.

North0House
January 15th 2011


1764 Comments


Dunno man, I really like Bigger Than Us. Like, a lot... And I kinda liked their first release. I might check this out and see what I think.
But, this review kinda makes me feel like it sucks.

Tyrael
January 15th 2011


21083 Comments


I'm so dissapointed with this... geez.

Digging: Summoning - With Doom We Come

North0House
January 15th 2011


1764 Comments


Is it that bad?

AliW1993
January 15th 2011


7511 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

There's gonna be loads of reviews for this, I've nearly got one finished too :/



I don't dislike this as much as you but as a fan of their first it's a big dissapointment.

Tyrael
January 15th 2011


21083 Comments


I am a fan of their first album, but this is a massive letdown.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 15th 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

FWIW Bigger Than Us is almost definitely the best song on the record.

DoubtGin
January 15th 2011


6880 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bigger Than Us is pretty awesome, yes

Willie
Moderator
January 15th 2011


17310 Comments


I've never heard of these guys, but I was hoping it would be good because I liked the album cover (kind of reminded me of The Shining). Good review - pos & shit.

AliW1993
January 15th 2011


7511 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

If you want to give them a try then listen to Death from their first album, it's their best song by a mile. If you don't like that then it's not worth going any further.



And yeah I thought Bigger Than Us was the best song here too. The whole things clearly been written for arenas but that's the only song I can even vaguely imagine making it in a large venue.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2011


22464 Comments


Good stuff Adam. I thought you were really going to roast this, but the review is well-balanced. I still might give this a listen.

Just as a comparison point, what did you rate their debut?

Knott-
Emeritus
January 15th 2011


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

What Ali says is true, Trey:



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTh9IuSTOY0 or bust



2.5, Davey, if I remember correctly. I think it's accepted as better than this though.



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