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White Lies - To Lose A Life

White Lies, To Lose My Life

Review by Matt Hamm

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE eagerly anticipated White Lies erupted onto the British music scene in January, with the release of their debut album To Lose a Life. Hailed as one of 2009’s Next Big Things, their dark and sometimes epic tones shot straight to number one on its release.

The Ealing based trio have made a speedy rise to fame over the past 12 months, even though they were formerly known as Fear of Flying, and struggling as an indie pop outfit. Singer Harry McVeigh felt it was time for a change of name and sound, though, and so was born the melancholic tones of White Lies.

Drawing their sound from both modern day bands and those of old – from The Editors and Arcade Fire to Talking Heads and Joy Division – it makes for an interesting listen.

The second single released online and the one that kicked off the buzz surrounding them was Death. McVeigh’s voice booms over the heavy guitars and fast drumbeat; building to a big crescendo of chorus and successful catchiness.

But the latest single release, and second song on the album, To Lose a Life, is the one that really sets the tone, keeping your toes tapping, and grabbing your attention with the icy hand of McVeigh’s voice.

His voice sounds like an ’80s concoction of Ian Curtis (Joy Division), Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen) and Robert Smith (The Cure), and it’s one that can be strong, dark and forceful one moment, then soft, touching and intimate the next.

And the ’80s new wave sound is strong throughout. Going from a song like E.S.T, with big guitars but an enjoyable electronic yet dark tune right through, to the mystic and slightly delusional gothic fairytale feel of Nothing To Give, you can almost imagine yourself immersed in a Tim Burton animation.

McVeigh bellows “everything’s got to be love or death”, and it’s this kind of morbid tone that seeps from each song. But whereas typical dark-goth-style albums would leave you reaching for the razorblades, White Lies strike a lighter note, making you want to dance rather than die.

One issue and slightly sour point for White Lies is that the album lacks originality. It’s fine to craft a sound from the bands they love, but it also needs a new take, a fresher approach and White Lies seem to have missed this for the moment.

This having been said, White Lies have tipped their hat to the much loved ’80s new wave and have brought the genre back into charts. And fair play to them.

The album is an enjoyable 45 minutes of music, filling the gap that The Editors and Arcade Fire have left since 2007. And there’s no doubt that White Lies will have a very big 2009, starting with a slot on the NME Awards Tour supporting Glasvegas in 17 venues around the country.

So, it’s safe to say that – for now – the future’s white, the future’s…er, morbidly dancy…

Download picks: Nothing To Give, To Lose My Life, Death

Track listing:

  1. Death
  2. To Lose My Life
  3. A Place To Hide
  4. Fifty On Our Foreheads
  5. Unfinished Business
  6. EST
  7. From The Stars
  8. Farewell To The Fairground
  9. Nothing To Give
  10. The Price of Love