At the outset, things may seem easy for a band that sounds an awful lot like other bands—they're easy to define, people find them without much trouble (You like Interpol? You should try White Lies!), and there's a track laid out for them. The problem is, a band like White Lies constantly stands next to one of those "You Must Be This Tall to Ride" measuring sticks. White Lies is not as complicated musically or lyrically as Interpol, not as gloomy as Editors, and nowhere near as dangerous and sexy as Joy Division.
A song such as "Strangers," from their second album, Ritual, feels very much paint by numbers: chugging guitars, spooky keyboards, dark and massive vocals. Vocalist Harry McVeigh sometimes sounds surprisingly flat and the soaring notes don't quite get off the ground. His lyrics also fall flat, "Hold tight for heartbreak/Buckle up for loneliness." On occasion, he can put together some images that start to conjure a feeling ("Dead dreams and dirty clothes"), but then he falls back on clichés ("Can anybody hear me?/Is anybody out there?"). More than that, though, McVeigh seems to either clog lines with too many syllables or not enough, sometimes in back-to-back lines, giving the songs a herky jerky stop-start.
The rest of the band doesn't fare much better. Rather than the angular attack of Joy Division or the swooning changes of Interpol, White Lies bring a little sunshine through the clouds, with a softer keyboard edge and the aforementioned chugging guitars. This inspiration through darkness method could work, but the band doesn't reach the peak to which they're aspiring. Unfortunately, they're not quite tall enough yet to ride the same coaster as Editors, much less Interpol, much, much less Joy Division. (www.whitelies.com)
Author rating: 3/10
Average reader rating: 5/10
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