Album Review: Friends

Intro

Earlier this year, White Lies fans began to worry the band were on the verge of calling it a day due to them releasing no new material since Big TV in 2013.

But quite the opposite was true; Harry McVeigh and co had been waiting in the wings and preparing more new music ready for their autumn 2016 tour. And sure enough on October 7 of this year they released Friends.

Feedback highlight the more notable tracks and talking points from the band’s fourth studio album.

 

Take it Out on Me

This is the first track on the album and the only one the band have released as a single so far.

But it’s arguably a false advert for what most of the album has to offer. It’s dancey, a common theme of the album, but unlike others the pace quickens in the chorus and it means something to you. It puts a bit of fire in your belly.

You can’t help but sympathise with McVeigh as he desperately attempts to discover what is upsetting his lover: “Erase those worried eyes, lay your trouble out beside me… Tell me what is going wrong.”

It certainly has the trademark trait of a decent White Lies tune as it’s an earworm. So much so that I couldn’t get it out my head after the first listen, which I don’t think has ever happened to me before!

When you give this one a listen, I challenge you to not still be crying out “Take it out on me!” hours after playing it.

 

Don’t Want to Feel it All

The fourth song on the album is a slower, much more relaxed, piece of music.

But the juxtaposition between the raging emotion in McVeigh’s voice and his two bandmates’ laid-back beats doesn’t quite work. It’s confusing and takes the limelight from the brilliant music, with Jack Lawrence-Brown rhythmically caressing his drums being a personal highlight.

The lyrics are also quite weak and repetitive in this one; “Your mind was changing. I wasn’t listening up here in my daydream.” They don’t really add to the song or take it anywhere else.

The band would have arguably been better off having no lyrics, like Alt-J did with their musical interludes on An Awesome Wave. The tranquillity of the music would have been able to shine through more and actually be appreciated as a work of art.

A great shame because the instrument playing deserves so much more.

Swing

The seventh song on the album begins with such hope and promise, which slowly fizzles out over the five and a half minutes.

The intimidating use of synthesisers and the military-style drum beats imply the song will come to an exciting crescendo.

But it never takes off.

The chorus is too flat and the build-up before it makes you expect McVeigh to belt out a deep, inspirational speech out but he instead leaves you dwelling on the anti-climax.

 

Don’t Fall

The tenth and final track of the album is a breath of fresh air.

A successful 80s throwback, with an injection of synth only before McVeigh romantically sings “Don’t fall” which isn’t played again until he next repeats those two words.

McVeigh pleads to his lover and remembers the good times in this emotional number, but feels he isn’t good enough and says they should leave: “Just cut the cord and fly with it.”

It’s a song of acceptance of the end, making it the ideal choice for the album’s last track.

It’s the sort of song that wouldn’t be misplaced on 80s-themed-TV show Stranger Things, but also has a place in the current Indie market.

A masterpiece in music, with McVeigh’s vocals back on top form. A simple but effective finale.

 

Final Thoughts

Friends is a mediocre, slow-paced album with hints of promise and brilliance, but they never really come to fruition.

The first and last tracks are positioned well to bookend a set of average recordings.

It left me craving the band’s true identity and I had to listen to To Lose my Life and Ritual afterwards to get my White Lies fix.

 

By Ryan Petterson

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