Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: Polydor
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
White Lies' third studio album, 2013's Big TV, finds the band building upon the darkly anthemic sound of their first two albums with an added songwriting maturity. After touring almost non-stop in support of 2009's To Lose My Life and 2011's Ritual, White Lies took almost a two-year break to recoup and rethink their direction before heading back into the studio to record Big TV. The time off seems to have worked, as the trio of lead singer/guitarist Harry McVeigh, bassist Charles Cave, and drummer Jack Brown, along with producer Ed Buller -- who also co-produced the band’s debut -- have crafted a handful of highly literate, single-worthy tracks that still evince their love of moody, '80s post-punk.
White Lies' third album, Big TV, doesn't shy away from ambition, delivering a stylized, polished concept album that tells the story of young lovers moving from a small town to the fast-paced city. But bigger isn't necessarily better, as the bulk of the songs display a stunning similarity to much of what White Lies has done in the past. Synths are more prevalent here than on the band's previous efforts, but the subtle layer of electronic effects does little to break up the often-doleful atmosphere.
I’m bored. Tell you what, shall we put the TV on? Take a second to admire the set, though, because White Lies’ third album is a 55-inch beast of a thing, solid and well crafted by a band wholly confident in their songwriting. There’s a film on, too: a loose concept about a young woman who moves from the provinces of an Eastern European country to a big Western city, and the pressures it puts on her relationship.
Death and taxidermy: these used to be the certainties that defined White Lies. These provided at least two song titles, Death and Taxidermy, staking out White Lies' plot in pop's overcrowded churchyard. The west London trio released their debut, To Lose My Life, in January of 2009 (a quiet month), and promptly hit the No 1 spot, eventuallyselling nearly 900,000 copies worldwide.
Crikey, are this lot still here? Despite a knack for robust indie sort-of anthems that are never actively awful White Lies must be the least memorable ‘buzz band’ in the history of hyperbolic music journalism. Their arrival was probably the last hurrah for the chart-bothering indie boom of the noughties, the one that started with the genuinely exciting (Libs, Franz, Bloc Party) sailed through the everyman (Kaisers) via the bloody awful (Fratellis) and ended with the interminable (Editors), before we all realised this grubby-boys-with-guitars thing had got a bit boring again. White Lies pitched up at the end of the cycle, doing more or less what the Killers had done a few years earlier, filtered through Interpol’s slightly more maudlin sensibilities.
The hashtag #accidentalpartridge is fired at those on Twitter who make comments unwittingly reminiscent of Alan Partridge's turtlenecked patter. It could be stickered to this third album by stadium-aspiring London trio White Lies – overwrought metaphors like "she was a first-time caller but a long-time listener" yearn to be sung at the wheel of a Lexus on a Norfolk A-road. But as in the work of Simon Le Bon and Jim Kerr, an amalgam of which singer Harry McVeigh theatrically channels, dumb lyrics can be mitigated by robust anthems.
Once a band get tarred with a certain brush, it is often very difficult to escape the comparisons that constantly follow them around throughout their career. It is something London trio White Lies had to get used to quickly. Like Editors and Interpol before them, White Lies’ dark, melodramatic rock was often unfavorably compared with Joy Division when they first broke on to the scene with their debut album To Lose A Life in 2009.
Big TV is the third album to come from British indie rock band, White Lies. The album is loosely based on a narrative, as revealed in an interview with NME, of “a couple who leave an unidentified provincial European area for a much bigger, more glamorous city.” It sounds like an idea for a low budget indie film and the album certainly has a cinematic feel to it. There are catchy, loud, choruses as well as dark, haunting moments, but there’s nothing more to the album.
White Lies’ Harry McVeigh knows how to command his tenor voice in a manner that is both compelling and dangerous. This is a man that would pick you up for a first date after dark on a sleek motorcycle, a man whose allure lies in his ability to convince you to relinquish all control. From the first synth-heavy moments of Big TV, you realize you very badly want to go wherever it is McVeigh wants to take you, and the rest of the London outfit’s third album delivers on the promise of a wild night.
The year is 1985. The Breakfast Club is still in theaters. Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You (Forgot About Me)’ is all over the radio. Tears for Fears put out Songs from the Big Chair, The Cure release The Head on the Door, and The Thompson Twins continue to forge pop gold with Here’s to Future Days.
White Lies were one of those bands who, before they’d even released a single song or played a single show, were swarmed upon by over-excited industry folk and awarded the promiscuous crown of ‘best new band in Britain’. In normal circumstances, this is a foolproof recipe for a quick, flash-in-the pan disaster of a career. A one-and-done type deal.