ALBUM REVIEW: White Lies – ‘Friends’

London gloom merchants White Lies have become a staple in our music consumption since the release of their debut album, ‘To Lose My Life’. Now four albums in, the trio are baring a new confidence, ‘Friends’ is a record that boasts ten wildly energetic, hopeful and poignant musings about the changing nature of relationships.

With a proud exuberance, McVeigh’s holler-and-croon delivery announces “I’m in love with the feeling of…being used” on album opener Take It Out On Me, this brush of optimism is enough to lift the spirits for a second or two until the reality of the lyric sets in, and with a thud we recognise the classic darker-edged songwriting that has made this band so successful. But what’s new now, is that they’re content to play with their own eccentricities and push further away from the ever-so-serious intensity of their back catalogue in a playful manner. 

As a way of recovering from the rampage of the opening gambit, Morning in L.A provides relief in its lightness of touch without losing resonance. It’s a song about growing up, delivered with a catchy synth opening montage, tied together with sturdy riffs that outline the vocal line. The lyrics cover the disconnect that comes along with moving away from home, and the struggles of losing touch with loved ones. The following tracks Hold Back Your Love, Is My Love Enough and Don’t Want to Feel It All are a tip of the hat to ’80s disco-laced funk-pop, all are distinctly gratifying in their neon hues of shimmering power pop. The latter holds a melange of tropical sheen and yearning uproars of supercharged melody. Whilst rhythmically there’s a restlessness, the main root of conflict feeds in from a resistance of acceptance, that the relationship is in jeopardy: “You said, your mind was changing / I wasn’t listening up here in my daydream.”

Feeling like White Lies on auto-pilot, the synth rock bombast of Summer Didn’t Change A Thing rallies a weaker moment for the band before moving forward with the disjointed off-kilter grooves of Swing. A track that feels like a lost cut from Tears for Fears, if only with the added benefit of Depeche Mode’s blackened synths. The dark lullaby sings of polite dissatisfaction, “I wake up lonely with love at my side mournfully declares McVeigh, a poignant reminder to the hallowed complications of relationships, harking back to the days of ‘Unfinished Business’. Come On tells of the same broken relationship, throwing the lyric “you know there’s something wrong, you’ve known it for a while, come on” sky-high with gusto. Following the classic White Lies formula, this is easy made arena-ready synth rock from them, whilst the band admirably disagree saying that the song was difficult to come by and that it only materialised after tracking ‘multiple demo’s of it, [through tearing] it to pieces and [putting] them together again.’

Languorous synths earmark the lead in of Right Place until they’re rumbled out of place by shuddering cuts of bass. All together this is a mixture of Ritual-era sparseness with the liberating pop aspirations of Big TV and the pulse quickening anthemia of To Lose My Life. A gold star waiting at the tail end of the record. Finishing on Don’t Fall, the album drops tempo but finds a spark of inspiration. Sounding like it could have almost been lifted off the last Spector record ‘Moth Boys’, the retro-leaning cut shuffles along seamlessly. Though that’s not to say that it doesn’t make an impact, Don’t Fall is the most evocative track on the album. Melancholy, nostalgia and longing play equal parts in the story, as the light’s dim and the music fades out, a tear will mostly likely be shed.

White Lies’ fourth album ‘Friends’ is due for release on 7th October. Pre-order the record and exclusive bundles here.

For more on White Lies, head to their Website.

Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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