When White Lies appeared on the music scene in 2009 they gave way to a post-punk revival, riding the wave of the success that similar bands had obtained a few years earlier. A great deal of comments was made on the likeness between the sound of the London-born trio and that of acts such as Editors, Interpol and even Joy Division but McVeigh and co always denied having ever drawn inspiration from those groups. Either way, the melodies and lyrics of their previous work were indeed fairly obscure.
Three years after their last record, White Lies come back with Friends. The title may be the first sign of a real change for the band – while in Ritual, for instance, White Lies sang of Strangers and in Big TV they were Getting Even, this new effort may be an attempt to finally open up and present that ‘more uplifting’ sound they claimed to be producing. However, it seems the band still has a long way to go before it gets there – much like for the figures in the maze depicted on the album cover, the road ahead looks uncertain and full of tricks. If anything, the intent is clear and in spite of the possible dead ends they might run into they are at least trying.
The songs contained in Friends are endowed with infectious guitar riffs, feel-good electronic keyboard patterns and choruses that turn the songs into little anthems and create a curious 80s-like indie-pop sound. The fact that the band recorded this album in Bryan Ferry’s studio may have played a significant role. Summer Didn’t Change a Thing is probably the most representative of this slightly different sound – its catchy chord progression and refrain give the impression of a more carefree attitude reminiscing of classic summer vibes that appropriately fit the song’s title. An analogous upbeat, light-hearted tune also features in all the other tracks.
White Lies’ distinctive dark ambience nonetheless still features prominently, affecting not only the melody but also the lyrics. The recurrent, interlaced themes of love, loss, fear still seem to be the band’s major source of inspiration. What appears to have changed is the way they now express these feelings, with words that go straight to the point and have lost their past evocative power. Whichever direction White Lies are taking, it looks like they’re at a crossroads. The result is an enjoyable hybrid that will still please fans and probably gain new followers too.
- Take It Out On Me
- Morning in LA
- Hold Back Your Love
- Don’t Want To Feel It All
- Is My Love Enough?
- Summer Didn’t Change a Thing
- Come On
- Right Place
- Don’t Fall
Friends is out now, for more information on White Lies and upcoming shows click here.