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White Lies - Big TV (Album Review)

Monday, 12 August 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

Since their formation in 2007, Ealing post-punks White Lies have secured a comfortable spot alongside Editors and Interpol as purveyors of Joy Division-inspired doom and gloom.

Their critically-acclaimed debut, ‘To Lose My Life’, surfaced in 2009 and reached the top of the UK album charts, while its follow-up, ‘Ritual’, fared less well. Still ploughing the same furrow, it was a reasonable effort but lacked the individual highlights of its predecessor. 

Their third album, ‘Big TV’, is now upon us, its arrival heralded by the free release of Getting Even and, more recently, the first official single from this collection, There Goes Our Love Again.

Based around the story of a couple moving to a city, ‘Big TV’ launches into its title track from the off and it’s an excellent start. Harry McVeigh’s distinctive baritone battles with moody synths and electric guitar chords, with Visage’s Fade To Grey a noticeable influence before an anthemic chorus blasts the track into retro-heaven with its repeated cry: “Cos I’m living in a room downtown with a bed and a big TV”.

There Goes My Love Again is another highlight – the repetitive “I didn’t go far and I came home” chorus nestling in the memory cells with ease - with more accompanying synths and squalling guitars giving the track a shimmering, shoegazey feel.  The first of two rather unnecessary musical interludes then precedes First Time Caller, which takes the pace down a notch or two but not the quality. Built around echoey keyboards and another strong chorus, with piercing electric guitar, the track is clearly another potential single.

The bass-heavy Mother Tongue then benefits from stabbing guitar contributions before the chorus soars alongside another ‘80s backdrop, while the synth foundations continue with the blistering Getting Even, a slow-paced grower that still delivers the customary stadium-filling chorus.

Gentle piano opens Change and the track takes a break from the full-on anthemic template, with swirling, atmospheric synths joining the sparse piano as McVeigh’s vocal takes centre stage.  Be Your Man returns to a more up-tempo beat, sounding like the Editors teaming up with the Bravery, and it’s another decent number although perhaps lacking in distinctive qualities despite McVeigh’s shot at a soaring chorus.

Space ii is the second rather meaningless ‘musical interlude’ and leads the way into Tricky To Love, which unfortunately boasts another of the weaker choruses on the album.  Penultimate track Heaven Wait is an atmospheric slow-burner that doesn’t repeat the mistake, the chorus this time accompanied by a militaristic drum pattern, while Goldmine is an upbeat closer that falls just short of the standard set by the record’s best moments.

The title track is undoubtedly the strongest on this collection and while  there are other highlights to be found, there is a gradual decline in quality as things progress. A different track order may have helped, but ultimately the songwriting is occasionally lost among the sheen.

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