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White Lies - Friends (Album Review)

Monday, 10 October 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

London trio White Lies have divided opinion since their debut, ‘To Lose My Life...’, was released in 2009. That collection investigated the dark side of synth-rock and drew comparisons with Interpol and Editors, not least because of Harry McVeigh’s baritone vocals.

Over the course of the two albums that followed, White Lies moulded their sound into something less intentionally gloomy. That trend continues on album four, ‘Friends’. Inspired in part by experiencing the changes in relationships that time and distance bring, the record’s ‘80s worship leans noticeably towards the cheesier side of the decade rather than the cool early years that initially brought many synth-devoted Kraftwerk descendants to the fore.

Despite McVeigh’s vocal tones being at the opposite end of the spectrum to those of Morten Harket, ‘Friends’ owes much to A-ha, particularly if we were to envision that band intent on providing a soundtrack to a lost John Hughes film. 

The recently-released Morning In LA apparently helped the album’s tone fall into place and it’s one of a number of addictive melodic moments. The pulsing bass and dancefloor vibe of album opener and lead single Take It Out On Me also benefit from being attached to an anthemic chorus, but the catchiest moment by some distance is the glitzy Hold Back Your Love, which will take some shifting from memory cells.

Don’t Want To Feel It All Again also wouldn’t look out of place on a ‘80s radio playlist, while the slower Is My Love Enough? deploys more ear-candy glossed with some decidedly plastic, yet addictive, synth tones. The ballads Right Place and Don’t Fall, meanwhile, move into new territory entirely yet still retain the solid hooks of earlier tracks. Perhaps best of all, though, is Swing, maybe the only moment that hints at the band’s darker origins with its moody undertones, glistening synths and relentless outro.

Despite some cringe-inducing lyrics, ‘Friends’ is a collection that a certain generation reared on ‘80s synths is likely to love. Those on the bandwagon - where pointing out White Lies’ shortcomings takes precedence over the plethora of enjoyable, feel good melodies at their disposal (and who would have ever thought that after their debut?) - are missing out.

White Lies Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue November 22 2016 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Thu November 24 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Fri November 25 2016 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sat November 26 2016 - LIVERPOOL East Village Arts Club
Sun November 27 2016 - GLASGOW O2 ABC Glasgow
Tue November 29 2016 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Wed November 30 2016 - LEEDS University Stylus
Thu December 01 2016 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Fri March 03 2017 - LONDON Troxy

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