White Lies - Ritual - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

White Lies - Ritual

by Mark Young Rating:4 Release Date:2011-01-17

White Lies' rise to fame in 2008 was a rapid one. By the time they released their first album To Lose My Life... in early 2009 the band had already firmly ingratiated themselves into the mainstream music sphere and they regularly found themselves sat upon the Radio 1 A-list spoon. It's rare that a band fits comfortably on the bill of the majority of the major music festivals but White Lies, with their stadium-new-wave-undertone-indie-rock and summertime appeal, seemed to manage that feat. Their standing in terms of general credibility - somewhere in-between The Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs - meant their sets were always well attended. However, their firm control of the media circus and radio friendly sound meant they were never going to become a much more than a guilty pleasure among the purists.

White Lies are undoubtedly better than many that garner asimilar column inches in the popular music press, although comparisons which have been made with the likes of Joy Division or Talking Heads are generous. That isn't to say those influence aren't present though, and you could argue even more so on 'Ritual', their second album, released this week. Two years on, the follow up is consistent in overall sound with its predecessor but it carries a palpably darker edge and it draws a lot more from 80s indie and even 90s shoegaze.

The evolved sound seems more considered but it's hit and miss in delivery. The album starts promisingly. Track one, 'Is Love', starts with a marching Joy Division style drumbeat and vocal before breaking into a Happy Mondays indie-dance flow. The next two, including single 'Bigger Than Us', continue in a similar vein. Hooks-a-plenty and a upbeat tempo make them solid if unspectacular pop songs. Thereafter things mellow slightly and there's mixed success. There're one or two that roll along nicely enough but there're also dull patches where you start to question direction.

The songs begin to jar a bit with monotony and one or two border on irritating. The radio friendly feel has been diluted considerably but so has the testosterone alongside it. It's ironic perhaps that an attempt at a more serious album almost takes something away from what the band used to have. There isn't the bite of previous hits like 'Farewell to the Fairground' or first album title track and this is a shame since that was something the band did well, especially open-air during a mid-evening slot to a crowd made up of cider-fuelled weekend hedonists.

The album is listenable for the most part and it might find an audience with mainstream indie fans partial to a bit of light shoegaze but not willing to go the whole hog. However, it has a feeling of transition which doesn't nail its colours to any particular mast. The festival crowds this summer will still turn up but it's the old songs, rather than the new, that will probably be shouted for.

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This album is so bad, they'll probably be filling stadiums by the summer though. British music is in a bit of a state right now.

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