When it comes to music, I tend to gravitate towards the darker, somewhat more ominous sounding songs. White Lies has always been a band I turn to that fits that exact description. Usually compared to bands like Interpol or Editors, I fell in love with Harry McVeigh’s somber, baritone vocals and the band’s bleak yet energetic music. When they debuted their album To Lose My Life…, many of their tracks were put on repeat in my IPod. While Ritual and BIG TV, the band’s second and third albums, were not as heavy on my music radar, they still hold a special place in my heart. After three years since their last release, their fourth album Friends takes White Lies in a path that caught me a bit off guard.
From the start of “Take It Out on Me,” the album’s first track and single, it is evident that this album has a heavy 80s vibe with the cheery synth it opens up with. The steady beat of the drum makes anyone want to get up and dance as McVeigh sings “Oh take it out on me/I’m in love with the feeling.” The track is a great way to display the change in direction White Lies is going for. My only qualm with it is how abruptly it ends, without even completely fading out.
“Is My Love Enough?” reminds me of White Lies’ earlier songs like “Farewell to the Fairground” or “Big TV.” McVeigh has a sense of hopelessness in his voice as he sings “So tell me is this love enough/Tell me what it’s really worth/I don’t know what to feel anymore.” The airy atmosphere towards the end almost reflects what McVeigh is feeling: he’s given up and his love is slowly fading away.
Friends is by far the happiest album that White Lies has created. The album cover alone is enough to see this change. It doesn’t feature the cooler colored palette their previous three albums display in the artwork. Lyrically, it still has that gloomy feel as the album focuses on the theme of drifting away from friends or loved ones. The band has definitely expanded into more electronic grounds as opposed to their signature post punk genre to create almost a retro sounding album. While this is an album I can see myself listening to again, it made me feel very disconnected to the band I had come to know in the past few years. I missed the eeriness I had come to expect from them. McVeigh’s voice sounded slightly out of place compared to their upbeat songs. It was not the album I was hoping to hear from White Lies, but one I can appreciate.