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Album Review: White Lies – Friends

 
By on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

White Lies Friends album coverThe year I joined TGTF as its USA Editor, White Lies were on the longlist of the BBC Sound of 2009. So I feel a special kind of kinship towards the West London band. I like White Lies. I really do. I’ve seen them three times, and they’re a great live band. There’s no denying they’re a fantastic singles band: rattle off ‘To Lose My Life’, ‘Farewell to the Fairground’, ‘Bigger Than Us’, ‘There Goes Our Love Again’, all well received by fans and part of their ever enlarging oeuvre. But this is where their problems stem from. Whether purposeful or merely coincidence, they’re a band that has offered up three albums – 2009’s ‘To Lose My Life…’, 2011’s ‘Ritual’ and 2013’s ‘Big TV’ – with the highest of highs, only to leave you feeling let down with the rest of the album sounding hohum.

Unfortunately, this is the fate of their latest, ‘Friends’, released earlier this month on Fiction Records. The previously released single ‘Take It Out on Me’ begins the album at a heady height that the album never reaches again in its other nine tracks. What’s more, they’ve chosen to go in a disco direction on several songs on the LP, to varying degrees of success. Since their earlier beginnings toying with the grim fatalistic on ‘Death’ and ‘Unfinished Business’, they’ve been pegged as miserabilists, so the introduction of overly bright synths and beats seems like a massive disconnect.

As an album that primary songwriter and bassist Charles Cave has described as chronicling the spectre of getting older, of being pulled away from the mates you once felt so close to. Despite having an upbeat backbeat thanks to drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown, album track 2 ‘Morning in LA’, comes across clunky. The subject matter of ringing up a friend in Shanghai and finding it sad that it’s already morning in California may be of utmost importance to them. But as an American-based editor who corresponds daily with UK and Australian contacts out of necessity, it’s hard to be sympathetic.

‘Swing’ and ‘Come On’ are so lyrically uninspiring, as you’re listening to the album from front to back, your attention will dip way low once you’ve past ‘Summer Didn’t Change a Thing’, where Cave hides unrequited love behind a grandly anthemic façade. This song is so classic White Lies, you wonder why they can’t seem to repeat or improve on their basic winning formulas for a whole album. Do they get fidgety?

There are some great moments on ‘Friends’ that I would be remiss in not mentioning. ‘Don’t Want It Feel It All’ details the struggle of loving an unstable depressive, or possibly from the perspective of that depressive and the confusion within while trying to hold on to a relationship. It’s a brave move lyrically after the weirdness of ‘80s throwback track ‘Hold Back Your Love’ in which frontman Harry McVeigh oddly begs the object of his affection to deny love to him because he “wanna see what I feel without / every feeling is streaming out”. The excessively gay keys that accompany McVeigh’s yearning vocal are a strange juxtaposition initially, but somehow it works. The buzzing synths and big beats frame ‘Is My Love Enough?’, a rhetorical question posed by a partner to a lover, insisting that leaving is the kindest way forward, a disco version of Keane’s ‘Can’t Stop Now’.

‘Friends’ isn’t a bad album per se, but it does give one pause when considering it against the rest of White Lies’ catalogue. Charles Cave deserves props for confronting the march of time and what it does to relationships, but a disco beat may not have been the best choice to complement his often weighty topics.

6/10

‘Friends’, the fourth album from White Lies, is out now on Fiction Records. The band are in the middle of a European tour, before they return to the UK for a domestic tour beginning on the 22nd of November at London Shepherds Bush Empire. To see all of White Lies’ scheduled dates for the rest of 2016, go here. To read more of our extensive coverage here on TGTF on the West London trio, follow this link.

 

Video of the Moment #2155: White Lies

 
By on Friday, 5th August 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

West London trio White Lies made waves back in June when they returned to the fold with a new song. The single ‘Take It Out on Me’ stars on the band’s upcoming fourth album, which is scheduled for release in early October. To read my thoughts on the first taster from their new record, go here. For the promo video to accompany the single, the trio went into what might be considered an unusual direction to the casual listener. Not so if you’ve been following Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown since the beginning and you’ve been paying to the words of their more morbidly titled songs (‘Death’, ‘Unfinished Business’). Even as a long-time fan, I found this promo more than unsettling, confused in the different stories presented and then in McVeigh’s ghostly presence later in the second half of the video. See what you think by watching the video below.

‘Friends’, White Lies’ fourth album and follow-up to 2013’s ‘Big TV’, is scheduled to be released on the 7th of October on Fiction Records. For more on White Lies on TGTF, follow this link.

 

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.

7/10

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.

 

The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Sunday): White Lies playing ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ at the Other Stage

 
By on Monday, 30th June 2014 at 12:30 am
 

Wherever you will be hanging your hat this weekend, whether you’re joining the sheep at Worthy Farm or you’ve got your feet up in front of the telly, us here at TGTF will have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC will be working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

I have a soft spot in my heart for London’s White Lies: they were one of the bands that played the first show I ever covered as a music writer; they were part of a NME-sponsored tour here in America. ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ off their debut (and #1) album was one of the songs that was met with incredible cheers when it was played at their first show ever in DC. They’re now international stars but it’s great to see them play an old classic like this to the delight of their fans at an event as big as Glasto. Watch them perform it at the Other Stage Sunday at Glastonbury 2014 below.

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

 

Live Review: White Lies with Frankie Rose at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 22nd February 2014

 
By on Monday, 24th February 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

White Lies – or probably more accurately, their management team – don’t think that highly of DC. I’ve now seen the West London band every time they’ve come to our city. All three times. They’ve played in New York a countless number of times, but as a result of not appearing here all that often (the last time was nearly 2 and a half years ago, and during the interim, I’ve been silently fuming over the fact they’d skipped us several times; note to bands: don’t do this to me!), I think their fanbase here is probably less dedicated and more fractured. Being a Saturday night, I knew the Ealing band’s latest show in town to support their third album, 2013’s ‘Big TV’ (reviewed by me here), would be well attended. It just wouldn’t be sold out. White Lies has the benefit (or handicap, depending who you talk to, I guess) of bassist Charles Cave’s rather gloomy and always fatalistic lyrics. I went looking for the goths Saturday night, and there were none to be seen! Maybe they were all skulking in the shadows?

Frankie Rose at 9:30 Club 1

The soft-spoken (yet hard rocking) Frankie Rose, then, seems to have been an odd choice for a support act. However, after the first of Miss Rose’s songs, choosing her made the more mixed male to female ratio than I usually used to make more sense. I nearly went deaf by the man who was shouting “I love you!” at her. Gotta appreciate his fervor, though. I saw her open for Franz Ferdinand last autumn and she definitely was more in her element in a club setting than at a posh symphony hall. Wearing black sequined shorts that allowed her to show off her nice legs and thighs, it was nearly more than the testosterone around me could handle.

Frankie Rose at 9:30 Club 2

She seems like a really light-hearted person, the kind of woman you’d invite round for tea and have wonderfully honest conversations with. So it strikes me a bit odd that two of the songs in her less than 30-minute set were of the “spooky” and “scary variety, and she also managed to make fun of, jokingly, the more amorous concertgoers: “Who’s here on a date?” ::pauses:: “Really? Eww…” One of the more emotionally real moments of her set was when she described her new album ‘Herein Wild’ as explaining the good way “how truth always comes up to the top, even if you don’t want it to”. A good example of this is ‘Question/Reason’, which Rose described to The Line of Best Fit as her favourite song to play live, and it shows.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s been quite a long time since White Lies graced a stage in Washington. Unlike the two past times I’d seen them, something was palpably different. In the club atmosphere of the Black Cat coheadlining with Friendly Fires in 2009, the trepidation in frontman Harry McVeigh was visible on his face, until the crowd got behind them, allaying his fears. Two years later bringing second album ‘Ritual’ with them, they returned looking like conquering heroes, drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown hitting his kit so hard, I was sure it would spontaneously explode into a million piece with one wrong beat. Third time’s a charm, so they say, and in White Lies’ case, I’d say they’ve eased into their position as not necessarily elder statesman of gloom and doom rock (I think the Smiths have that sewn up) but certainly celebrated alt rockers who have proved their worth in longevity.

The set was heavily peppered with songs from their 2008 debut ‘To Lose My Life…’, much to the delight of everyone down the front. I was actually quite surprised by the band choosing to do this, figuring there would have been a heavier emphasis on ‘Big TV’ tracks. I was shocked when non-singles ‘A Place to Hide’ and ‘EST’ made an appearance; I wasn’t as shocked when ‘Unfinished Business’ was played, though it was a nice touch by McVeigh to remind everyone that it had been the first song they’d written and without its release, we’d probably have never heard of them. ‘Death’, which closed out their set before the encore, was played no longer as the hugely pogo-inducing set of my memory; just prior to the bridge, the tempo slowed down almost like a fake song ending, which had the effect of destroying the song’s momentum.

However, there were more high points than low. As I had predicted beforehand, the bombast of newer song ‘First Time Caller’ sounded massive on the 9:30 stage, as did that of ‘Mother Tongue’, though I’m still having trouble getting my head round the rather lumbering words. And if you thought the reach of Prince‘s secretive shows in the UK did not extend out to North America, think again: the headline set also included a strange cover of ‘I Would Die 4 U’ that relegated Lawrence-Brown on xylophone and McVeigh on synth. I’ve never been a massive Prince fan, so I didn’t get much out of this, save sensing it was one of the band’s greatest wishes to perform a Prince cover live and given their current stature, why not?

Now that the band have three albums to their name, it stands to reason that before White Lies even contemplates going out on tour, they’ve got to make some hard decisions about their set list, and not all of their choices on the North American tour were great. While I would have rather preferred a far more frenzied response from the punters Saturday night, I think the reaction I witnessed speaks to White Lies’ fanbase these days: reverential, rather than manic and fanatical. Just like the band has grown up, so has their fans.

After the cut: White Lies’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: White Lies with Frankie Rose at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 22nd February 2014

 

Top Albums of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 16th December 2013 at 11:00 am
 

It’s amazing how quickly a year can speed by, and 2013 has been not been an exception. While there is no doubt that the biggest, loudest and most annoying press campaign to promote an album this year was the one related to Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’, it won’t appear on my list of top albums. Nope, not a chance. Like all things in life, musical tastes change over time, and judging from the LPs released this year, mine definitely have.

I haven’t decided why the pop and dance worlds not haven’t been able to produce a good amount of excellent albums (notice I said albums, not singles), but I suspect that deep down, it has to do with heart. That said, I wonder if it’s symptomatic of the industry, but I’ve been having a hard time finding albums that I want to listen to in full, over and over again. So here are my top five albums of 2013 that I think everyone should own. Or at least listen to all the way through at least once to make your own judgment about them.

Static Jacks In Blue cover1. The Static Jacks – ‘In Blue’ (Old Friends) – The best albums are those that can span the entire spectrum of emotions for when you need it. The Static Jacks came of age on their second album, writing songs that can act like an old friend who is there to laugh with you or give you a knowing hug when you need a good cry. Not to mention, despite being still pretty young guys (at least they’re legal now, which they weren’t when I first saw them in 2010), they know how to write a memorable pop melody, which, judging from a lot of the rubbish on the charts these days, is a real talent.

It’s all here. You want fun? ‘I’ll Come Back’ and ‘Wallflowers’ are clear standouts, and to be honest, I’ve had such an up and down year, I needed something to cheer me up. ‘People Don’t Forget’ is probably the closest you’re going to get to the best pop song of the year. And lyrically, title track ‘In Blue’ hits in the spot: it’s an emotionally-charged piece of pop, “you try to run from all your problems / it just makes you stumble harder / realise I’m just sorry, and I know you’re still lonely”. Just perfect. Read my review here.

Dutch Uncles Out of Touch in the Wild cover2. Dutch Uncles – ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ (Memphis Industries) – Oddly, they’re the only ones from their town of Marple from the class of 2010 (the others being Delphic and Egyptian Hip Hop) still standing tall these days. Or maybe this is not odd at all. Breaking boundaries is what Dutch Uncles is all about, having recently put on a series of shows with a string ensemble, in addition to their atypical time signatures that have become their signature, and the uniqueness has paid off.

From the frenetic pace of xylophone in ‘Fester’, the feeling that you’re floating in space when you’ve got ‘Bellio’ in your headphones or my personal favourite, the smooth string –tinged jam of ‘Flexxin’ that caught Pitchfork’s ears, this is an album you’ll want to listen to over and over again, because you’ll discover something new and exciting each time. Oh, and while I’ve got your attention, you might as well get their debut ‘Cadenza’ too: different, but also wonderful. Read my review of ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHXxKitLdrU

Fenech-Soler Rituals cover3. Fenech-Soler – ‘Rituals’ (B-Unique) – I’ve listened to a lot of dance albums this year, trying to find The One (figuring it’d be easier than finding the right man) and mostly, I found disappointment. Fenech-Soler’s follow-up to their 2010 debut as worth the wait, with massive singles ‘All I Want’, ‘Magnetic’ and ‘Last Forever’, as well as the beauteous ‘Maiyu’.

It also contains quite possibly this year’s best floor filler in ‘In Our Blood’, an uplifting song about an ending relationship. It might be winter right now, but this album will keep your blood pumping all through to the next season of summer festivals. Read the album review here.

Fiction The Big Other cover4. Fiction – ‘The Big Other’ – ‘Effortless’ is the best word I can think of to describe London band Fiction’s debut album released in March. This LP feels like classic New Wave, yet does one better by being not at all heavy-handed: it’s got a lightness that will have ‘80s children feel nostalgic, with ‘Parting Gesture’ and ‘See Me Walk’ feeling like they would have been at home in a John Hughes film.

Regardless of how old you are, young and old should be able relate to (and love) this album because as evidenced in ‘Big Things’ and ‘Museum’, it’s just damn good: rhythmic, melodic, interesting. Read my review of ‘The Big Other’ here.

Arctic Monkeys AM cover sm5. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’ (Domino) – Not sure how much they should owe their placement to producer and friend Josh Homme, who basically helped reinvent them into a darker, harder version from the one that I’ll admit used to annoy the hell out of me on ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’.

For me, it’s less about Alex Turner’s vocals, sounding almost rap-like on some of the harder tracks. No, it’s the attitude throughout this album, from the bluesy guitars on ‘Do You Wanna Know?’ and ‘R U Mine’, to the Richard Hawley-esque ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’. Mark my words, latest single ‘One for the Road’ will be a minimalist rock classic.

After the cut: discussion on albums that disappointed.

Continue reading Top Albums of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 
 
 

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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.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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