White Lies – Friends

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.

Local Natives – Sunlit Youth

On August 8, 2014, Local Natives took the Twilight Concert Series’ stage and performed to their heart’s content. I remember the day like it was yesterday: the crowd was cheering, the lights on the stage were a calm blue, and my friend and I danced and sang along to all the songs they played. It was a great concert only made better by the announcement that they were already working on new material for their third album. Fast forward two years later and they have finally released what I had been waiting for: Sunlit Youth.

Local Natives got their start in Silver Lake, California. Right out of college, the band wasted no time to start working on their first album. Their debut album Gorilla Manor was well received and set the stage for the potential the group has. From Gorilla Manor to Sunlit Youth, they have significantly matured. This album is not as charismatic as Gorilla Manor, but is much more optimistic than their emotionally driven second album Hummingbird. The lyrics have a more profound impact, addressing issues that are prominent in this day and age, such as telling the younger generation they have a voice (Fountain of Youth) to advising people to live in the moment (Past Lives).

The album opens up with the enthusiastic song Villainy. It is a grand departure from the somber mood of their second album to a livelier, joyous tone. It is immediately evident that they were not afraid to take some risks because of the heavy synths that loop from start to finish. In a way, it feels like they wrote a love letter to their hometown with the lyrics, “Mine is a chrome palace/Lost in Los Angeles/I know that I’ll make it through.”

Midway through the album, we get what is unarguably the most distinct and experimental single the band has ever produced with Coins. While still sounding like a Local Natives song, it veers away from the indie rock feel they usually have to a bluesy vibe. Singer Taylor Rice serenades the listener with a soulful voice while the prominent chords of the guitar play in the background.

Jellyfish has to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. Its hypnotic melody is captivating with its tribal beating drums, elegantly contrasted by gentle chimes. Rice’s soothing voice sings a story of love to the listener as he begins to describe how unexpected falling in love can be, “Took the wrong train and I fell/Head over heels in a moment.” This instantly shifts to the downfall of a relationship and how it equally can catch you off guard. The pain of heartbreak can be relatable to many people, however, the song still has a sense of positivity to it as if to assure people that everything will be okay.

Local Natives are currently on tour and will be performing on September 22nd at The Depot. Doors open at 7 p.m.


Review: “Sleep” by Tom the Lion Album

The first thing you will realize about Tom the Lion’s sophomore album Sleep is that it’s a little old, in fact about a year, but with our massive stacks of music you have to start somewhere. The first thing you will realize however, while you listen to the London, England based indie rock band is their unique spacey sound, which makes feel as though your floating in mid-air while still providing a surprisingly big, powerful and at times emotionally charged feel to their music. Perhaps the closest main stream equivalent to Tom the Lion would be to arena rock bands such as the Killers and U2, though where these bands tend to lean towards bigger powerful wafts of uplifting synthesizer lead, distortion filled moments of pure awesome (I’m one of the like five people who actually enjoyed the “crappy” album U2 dropped on everybody who IPhone a couple years back). Tom the Lion prefers to keep things on a lower more mellow level allowing for some beautifully musical moments where everything seems to align itself perfectly, creating complete Zen of synthesizer rich indie music.

Yet, the record is not perfect. Specifically there is a lack of dynamic range. Sleep is an album that loves its sound and refuses to deviate from an admittedly winning formula. From the Silent Partner to Winter’s wool Tom the Lion is at their best when they are laying down a slow but grooving rhythm overlaid by a myriad of melodies and counter melodies provided by spacy synths, guitars, and keyboards. This leads to some very well developed courses, and I found myself sing along far more than once. Though I sat listening to this album I found it impossible to tell most of the songs apart, while some level this is enjoyable as it makes the album feel cohesive as whole.  It does make looking at individual songs a bit bother, as while the hooks on tracks such as Ragdoll and Beholden are great, it can be hard to discern them apart once you get past the hooks. The one time the band does deviate from their formula, is in the track Oil Man which is interesting but ultimately falls flat in terms of giving any sort of substance besides deviation.

I am going to give this album a VERY solid seven out of ten. Tom the Lion, despite being a year old, proves to me I should learn their name with a fun and unique sound, and I look forward to seeing more or their stuff in our inbox. However this album just does not provide enough deviation and substance for me to truly appreciate their album. Though it is been a good entry point to a band who I hope will have long and exciting career.