Single Review: White Lies – Take It Out on Me

By on Thursday, 30th June 2016 at 12:00 pm

Man, I feel old. How is it possible that White Lies’ chart-topping debut album is 7 years old? It seems only yesterday that I pogoed until my feet hurt and sung along until I lost my voice at one of the first shows I ever covered as a blogger, a show presented by NME they coheadlined with Friendly Fires. But lucky children that we are (ageing children?), this week we’ve been gifted with a brand new single from the Ealing trio. Having had incredible luck in the past in their earliest days in the singles game – hello, ‘To Lose My Life’, ‘Farewell to the Fairground’, ‘Bigger Than Us’ – have they been able to strike lightning yet again? Further, is ‘Take It Out on Me’ a good indicator of things to come on album #4, due out this autumn?

In this article from NME, bassist and primary songwriter Charles Cave describes the songs on upcoming album ‘Friends’ reflecting how the relationship dynamic has changed in their friendships. As for ‘Take It Out on Me’, Cave has explained the song was directly “inspired by a lunatic on Instagram who kept commenting on a friend’s photos in pseudo-Biblical verse.” How exactly those two ideas mesh, I’m not really sure, as they don’t seem like they’d work on paper. However, somehow, White Lies make it work in the confines in a bouncy synthpop masterpiece.

An engaging synth buzz and a joyful beat begin the song on what seems to be a positive note. However, if you know anything about Cave’s songwriting – after all, he wrote a song about someone stabbing their lover, and the dead person haunting his killer – you know something sinister lurks underneath it all. Despite this, ‘Take It Out on Me’ has a great anthemic feel, something that White Lies have proved time and time again they know how to do. And do well.

Shining like a beacon as it has in the past, it’s frontman Harry McVeigh’s strong lead vocals that are the linchpin here. As McVeigh’s voice soars, he manages to push this track to the top of the indie heap. Mostly. The lyrics become repetitive as the song wears on (“tell me, tell me, tell me what’s going wrong”), and there’s only so much of a masochist one can take before you want to kick him like a wounded dog. But that seems to be the point. Counterintuitively, you can’t help but offer your sympathy upon hearing the fatalistic words “I’m in love with the feeling of / being used”. Mic drop.

Ultimately, this is Cave’s song about just how unrequited and unconditional love in a backdrop of insecurity can really hurt. One can never know how much you’re hurting someone else, especially if the other person is so good at internalising any and all pain in order to keep your affection. This is an uncomfortable set of words put to music, but it’s set to such a gay melody so like the very person it chronicles, ‘Take It Out on Me’ hides its true nature.


You can purchase White Lies’ new single ‘Take It Out on Me’ now. The London trio’s fourth album ‘Friends’ will be out the 7th of October on Fiction Records.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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