Monday, April 20, 2009

Review: 'To Lose My Life' by The White Lies for Tom Magazine



To Lose My Life (Fiction Records)

Lyrics like "The quilt of darkness dotted with our teardrops", and "I leave my memoirs in blood on the floor", could very well belong to a greasy-haired, pale-faced screamo band, sounding both angry and unintelligible. Instead, they’re the work of former indie-pop trio, Fear of Flying, who have reinvented their name and darkened their shirts and lyrics.

White Lies have travelled back to the eighties and brought Goth-rock and retro synth back with them. Constantly compared to Joy Division and Tears for Fears, these Brits have experienced an amazing amount of hype surrounding the release of their debut album, which went to #1 on the UK charts. Whilst they planned to record an album with a darker feel to it, I don’t think anyone expected it to be so darn depressing. Haunted fairgrounds, suicide pacts, murder, and unrequited love from the grave are all topics featuring in To Lose My Life. If these lyrics were any more macabre, they’d be pulled directly from a Bram Stoker novel. However, the sound is something entirely different.

Straightforward indie-rock with smatterings of synth and church organs make up the bulk of To Lose My Life. In fact, musically, the album is as harmless as sound-alike’s, The Killers. Vocalist Harry McVeigh’s unwavering baritone carries the record through with persistent emotion and strength, adding that something extra otherwise needed to make it really work.

‘Farewell to the Fairground’ is a paint-by-numbers guitar-pop piece complete with catchy hooks, about a haunted old fairground, that works surprisingly well. ‘From the Stars’ is a brilliantly depressive track about a man suffering a mental breakdown, during which McVeigh sings, "He catches raindrops from his window/ It reminds him how we fall/From the stars back to our seas/Where we’ve never felt so small". This proves itself to be really quite a decent album, one that should impress fans of indie-rock, retro Goth-rock, and poetry-writing mass-murders alike. It’s a strange mix, but it blends smoothly.

By Anna Angel

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