White Lies are usually portrayed as the earnest young men carrying the torch of Joy Division and the doom merchants that followed. I don’t get that. I think it’s just pomp rock on a shoestring budget.
If you ask me, White Lies are shooting for Coldplay, Snow Patrol or even U2 but come up short.
In a positive sense, the trio’s debut album ‘To Lose My Life’ is practically U2 on a home recording budget. You get the melodic yet powerful bass lines, insistent vocals, the shards of guitar cutting through and loads of reverb for the atmosphere. I just point at ‘Farewell To The Fairground’, ‘A Place To Hide’, ‘Unfinished Business’ as well as the title track ‘To Lose My Life’ and rest my case.
You’ll also find the odd bit of Coldplay-style pathos, like on ‘From The Stars’. As a three-piece, White Lies can’t really fill that template and the result is rather tinny. Mind you, there’s a touch of 80’s New Romantic about their attempts to do this kind of stadium rock without the manpower and only a synthesiser to fill out the sound. Kind of interesting, but surely not if you’re into big, emotionally whipped up music.
White Lies themselves are at pains to point out that they had never heard Joy Division, the Bunnymen and all the other 70s/80s bands they’re compared to when they first came up with their sound.
Fair point, it’s reasonable to expect that there are generations of musicians growing up who never came across this old stuff. No, I take this as another pointer that White Lies are not trying to perpetuate the old New Wave guard but are actually aiming to do bigger, stadium-bound stuff.
One obstacle I can see on the way to the stadium are the lyrics. You might argue that they’re dark and interesting and provide comfort to souls out there lost in despondency and despair. I don’t think so. You see, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis (RIP) had an economy of words and an elegant way with putting things just so. Few voices in rock matched either since when describing this feeling of the walls slowly closing in on you. White Lies, I’m afraid, don’t do it for me, yet.
Bear in mind that this is the first album of a band that’s only been gigging together for a year at this stage. There’s many a band that didn’t dazzle with originality on their debut but built a fanbase through persistance and hard work.
‘To Lose My Life’ goes on the ‘no-thank-you’ pile, but I’ll be checking out White Lies progress in a year or two.
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