Review Summary: On 'Friends' White Lies further embrace their new direction.
White Lies are a band that have never exactly been critical darlings. Their debut album gathered some decent commercial success and superficial comparisons to other dark sounding post-punk bands, but despite its derivativeness it contained enough memorable tunes to put the band on the map. The follow up Ritual
tried changing up their sound a bit with more synths added to the mix but the result was met with lukewarm reception due to weak melodies and poor lyricism, it seemed that decline and fall into obscurity was inevitable for the band. But then their third album Big TV
came out and their songwriting was polished significantly with lots of big hooks and strong melodies, but despite better reception, the commercial performance kept getting worse.
The band's fourth LP Friends
is more or less a continuation of last LP's sound, we get more catchy songs with even heavier use of synths. But that's the album's biggest flaw, while the band still delivers enjoyable new wave tunes, overall the album is hit or miss.
First problem with the album is a strange choice of singles, the lead single "Take It Out on Me" is a decent poppy track in the vein of album's previous lead single, but the chorus does not hit as hard. And God knows why "Come On" was even chosen as a single, on paper it seems like a great track with s nice build up and a big hook to follow, but the execution ultimately falls short. Luckily it gets better from there, "Hold Back Your Love", "Morning in LA" and "Don't Want to Feel It All" are all delicate synthpop numbers with huge choruses to sing along to and create a string of the best tracks on the record. "Is My Love Enough"" is another solid pop song in similar vein despite being a bit overlong. Another problem is the generic lyrical theme, almost every song on the album deals with love or personal subjects It is worth nothing that so far every album by the band had two songs containing the word "Love" in the title.
The album also suffers from being frontloaded, after "Summer Didn't Change a Thing" (Why this song wasn't chosen as a single or became a concert staple is a mystery) the second half drops in quality and we get some less memorable tracks. The album ends with "Don't Fall" (which sadly isn't The Chameleons cover) but despite being a lowkey track without a big hook it provides satisfying conclusion to the album.
But wait, there is more. The Japanese and deluxe edition comes with 4 more bonus tracks and like the album itself, the quality varies. "What I Need" and "Where Do I Go"" are playful bouncy songs while the catchy title track should have definitely been included on the album. Give a Sign is the definition of a throwavay.
The cassette version also includes several demos including demo of "Take It Out On Me" with different lyrics called "8913" and "Son of a Gun" which despite being a demo is better than half of the proper album's tracks.
But ultimately Friends is an enjoyable album despite some weaker cuts. It turns out that people were wrong, this band is not the new Joy Division, they are the new Tears for Fears.