White Lies: Ritual

RIYL: Bands that sound like Joy Division, Joy Division

Ritual, the sophomore album from freakishly pale London post-punkers White Lies, opens with “Is Love.” It is a love song about love that goes into great detail about how damn awesome falling in love feels. Is it a sign that the group of anemic goth London boys are looking up? Maybe they finally got some sun?

No. Don’t worry. While “Is Love” does extol the virtues of falling in love, nearly every other track on Rituals is a counterargument to that upbeat track, explaining in great detail why love is a hideous monster filled with dread and despair, and something that should be avoided at all costs.

On “Bigger Than Us,” lead singer Harry McVeigh worries that his significant other may be leaving him because she’s taking a different way home from work, “You’ve never taken that way with me before / Did you feel the need for change?” The somber tone of “Peace & Quiet” is a little more abstract, but its a safe bet that when he bemoans a “great pressure coming down on me,” he’s talking about love. He’s definitely talking about love on “Streetlights,” which opens with the oh-so-cheerful lyric “Hold tight for heartbreak, buckle up for loneliness.”

White Lies are mopey bastards, brought up in the school of Joy Division, combining sparse yet soaring riffs with dissonant melodies, all while McVeigh does his best to sound just like Ian Curtis. So yeah, they’re derivative without an ounce of originality in them. But they’re still fun in their own “I can’t believe they’re serious way.” Besides, there are far worse Joy Division rip off groups that you could listen to. On a scale of Interpol to She Wants Revenge, they’re definitely a high Editors. (Fiction 2011)

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White Lies: To Lose My Life

Think of White Lies as the Menswe@r of the latest UK rock movement; there is nothing particularly wrong with them, but the combination of timing (they don’t have it) and chops (they have enough to get by) saddles To Lose My Life, the band’s debut album, with one heck of an uphill battle. Their earnest, widescreen melodrama will fit snugly next to your Editors and Interpol CDs, and the title track, with its unforgettable lyric “Let’s grow old together, and die at the same time,” is sure to rope in a lovestruck Goth kid or two. It’s all perfectly pleasant, and they even reach for Julian Cope levels of bombast on “Nothing to Give,” but it’s lacking that transcendant moment where the band rises above its influences to deliver something extraordinary. As debuts go, it’s unassuming – which went out of style with the advent of Soundscan – but so was Travis’ first album. Let’s see where they go from here. (Geffen 2009)

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