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Album Review: White Lies – Big TV

Artist: White Lies
Album: Big TV
Release Date: 12th August 2013
Tracks: 12
Label: Fiction (UK and Europe)/ Harvest (US)/ Universal Music (Canada)

White Lies are a band that were introduced to me in late 2010, after the release of their first album To Lose My Life in 2009. They were a band that I loved from the first listen, combining elements of dark pop reminiscent of bands such as The Smiths, Interpol and dare I say it, Joy Division (Most notable with the song Getting Even). Me, I love dark melodic music like this, it really shows that you can still make harmonious and catchy music without having to sing falsetto with auto-tune.

So, earlier in the month they released an album called Big TV, their third and possibly most complete album to date, and that’s saying something following an album like Ritual. In a lot of ways, Big TV acts as an extension to Ritual, in that it sounds very similar, it has the same vibe. It’s easy to hear that you’re listening to White Lies, and it sounds as though they haven’t left their comfort zone at all, now, whether that’s a positive or a negative is for you to decide. Personally, I like White Lies’ sound because there are only a handful of bands that sound as though they’re in the same league as them. However, after three albums of familiar tunes it would be nice to hear them branch out a little should they choose to make another record. We all love familiarity, but familiarity breeds contempt.

The title track and other songs such as There Goes Our Love Again, and my personal favourite First Time Caller, contain a lot of the well-crafted melodies that you found on the previous album. We’re still treated to the trademark orchestral intros and sorrowful vocals from Harry McVeigh.

Unfortunately, I feel that Big TV focuses mainly on the choruses, ensuring that they’re catchy and melodic, but there doesn’t seem to be the same effort applied in the verses. In a nutshell, it seems White Lies have created verses that act purely as a precursor to their ‘Pièce de résistance‘ – their chorus. It’s one of those albums that when you’re singing along with a song, you’ll be making those random noises that sound like words through the verses, and you’ll know all the words to the choruses.

When I listen to albums such as Ritual, it’s one of those albums that every song is a potential hit, there are no dud songs, or songs that I’d want to skip, but sadly this is not the case with Big TV, for all of its triumphs there are still some songs that don’t particularly move me. Songs such as Mother Tongue for me, don’t make a great deal of sense, lyrically or otherwise.

However, I do feel as though I’m being too harsh on the Ealing boys, though that’s only because I greatly appreciate their music and I’ve adopted them in a motherly way, that added with the fact that I’m comparing it to previous albums doesn’t help. If this was a debut, then it would be a great starting point, although I feel that when it’s held up against Ritual and To Lose My Life it just doesn’t compare, it feels almost like a step back. But, for all of its flaws, I still would recommend this album for those of you that don’t know White Lies, it’s definitely a place to start, but for the more seasoned fans, I think that it still lacks the poignancy in the earlier records.

Take a listen to First Time Caller, my favourite song on the record, and one that I feel really summarises the album. Then draw your own conclusions!

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