White Lies

Ritual

Written by: TL on 22/02/2011 00:37:23

Two years ago, when White Lies emerged under the name they had changed from Fear Of Flying, and blew up with their debut LP "To Lose My Life...", Rockfreaks.net was of the opinion that indie-rock was pretty much bogus, and hence we didn't review it. These days, most of our writers still don't care much for the stuff, but I'm personally starting to learn to appreciate it - through an effort to give you guys the most versatile coverage of course - and hence I've recently been checking out both "To Lose My Life" and the new album "Ritual", in order to bring you a review of the latter.

Now, presuming some of you are complete newcomers to White Lies, and possibly also lacking in encyclopedia-like knowledge of the rock scene, I'd essentially try to describe the London trio's music as: Big-sound, indie/brit-rock, often experimenting with elements of 80s/90s electronic music, with massively effect-laden guitar giving way to dark synth-effects, while frontman Harry McVeigh delivers restrained, melancholic vocals. Initial listens to the band's debut album had me crudely labelling them as a The Killers/Depeche Mode hybrid, but having spent more time with "Ritual", I can say now that even if that was accurate (and I'm not sure it is), things are considerably more complicated to explain now.

Comparing "Ritual" to "To Lose My Life", I think the best way to describe the change is that it sounds like White Lies aren't as worried about whether people will like them now. "To Lose My Life" for all the gloom of its sound, is still an occasionally uplifting and generally forthcoming record, while "Ritual" is much more introverted and uncompromising.

That however, is not to say that there's no nuance in its dark colours. Let me name but a few other references that have crossed my mind while listening to "Ritual": Joy Division, The Cure, U2, Tears For Fears, Echo & The Bunnymen, Veto, Chapel Club, Editors... and I could go on. While this has posed problems in writing a review, as a bit of a music nerd, I have to recognize not just the great diversity, but also the fact that it's still impossible to say that White Lies sound exactly like any of those bands. This versatility and this uniqueness are both chief factors in making "Ritual" appear an album that will keep on giving for many listens.

The downside is, that the colder singing and the less obvious dynamics make "Ritual" less immediately enganging, and while songs like "Strangers" and "Holy Ghost" will reel you in sooner than others, I wonder if the record has me engaged more intellectually than emotionally. Not that one is worse than the other, I'd just prefer to have my cake and eat it too. Even if that's not what I get however, I must admit that "Ritual" has already stood up to relentless relistening, and seeing as it is still keeping me interested, it would seem that White Lies just might be better, than a lot of bands we were already covering two years ago.

8

Download: Strangers, Holy Ghost, Streetlights
For The Fans Of: Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The Killers, Veto, Chapel Club
Listen: myspace.com/whitelies

Release Date 17.01.2011
Fiction Records



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