Dubbed as one of the BBC's 10 Breakout Acts of 2009, West London's White Lies released their debut album To Lose My Life... yesterday to much fanfare. The buzz surrounding these three chaps from across the pond is staggering. On one hand, it's always a good thing for a band to garner such attention, especially one that plays some inspired post-punk music with a touch of 80's British rock. On the other, it's quite an expectation to live up to. That debut album better be firing on all cylinders lest the world forget about you. It's a good thing that White Lies are able to handle all the attention and have released a debut album that has jumped into being one of 2009's best. Their formula for success is simple enough, but it is their execution and songwriting that puts them over the top.
The album, appropriately enough, begins with the song "Death," one of the most uplifting songs to feature such a macabre title. The pounding drums are met with some glittery synths, hearkening back to the early 80's when British acts like Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen ruled the roost with their unmistakably innovative sound. Once lead singer Harry McVeigh's vocals kick in, any resistance to the song is futile. McVeigh has a twinge of Ian Curtis, the late lead singer of Joy Division, in his throaty singing style. Unlike She Wants Revenge's lead singer Justin Warfield, McVeigh's style has it's own originality. He is able to carry any given song with his demanding, dark vocals.
White Lies has set themselves up quite nicely with comparisons to contemporary bands like Editors, Arcade Fire and Interpol, all bands that share a darker sound. People often like to say White Lies sound like The Killers, and hearing this just makes me cringe. I get it, the two bands can sometimes sound similar, but don't give a new band like White Lies that unavoidable kiss of death by comparing their sound to the bland, hackneyed style The Killers play. Let White Lies breathe a little and come into their own before crushing their originality and hope for the future by telling them they sound like a band with such stupid, asinine lyrics like "Are we human or are we dancer?"
It was the song "Farewell To The Fairground" that got me hooked on White Lies. The song's lyrics are simple enough, but when McVeigh's vocals finally meet Jack Brown's infectious, staccato drumming and Charles Cave's Peter Hooky-esque bass playing, the song evolves into a juggernaut of indie rock splendor. It's perfect in it's utter simpicity, and that's I love about White Lies. Their debut album is an effortless almagamation of post-punk, shoegaze and indie pop. I am right along with the BBC picking these lads as a breakout act. White Lies have been tapped to play this year's SXSW and are also speculated to be on the lineup for Coachella, thus proving how huge of a 2009 these guys will have.
To Lose My Life... is out now in the UK on Polydor. It is available for download (albeit in British pounds) from Amazon.co.uk and Play.com.
Check out the White Lies' myspace to hear the songs "Death," "To Lose My Life," "Unfinished Business" and "Farewell To The Fairground."
Bonus Note: I just got my February issue of Spin Magazine in the mail, and after glancing at the cover, I noticed this blurb in the lower left-hand corner:
BRANDON FLOWERS "I try not to wonder why God picked me." Yeah, me too, buddy.