CD OF THE WEEK:Ritual Fiction****
Two years ago this nouveau- goth London three-piece scored a big commercial hit with their debut, To Lose My Life. Now they’re back again with the sort of windswept, big-screen sound that saw them drawing favourable comparisons with Interpol and Editors first time around. There hasn’t been any drastic tinkering with White Lies’ sound, but they’re now a little looser and more frayed around the edges.
Vocalist Harry McVeigh has come on in leaps and bounds, and the somewhat monotone vocal delivery of old has been replaced by something more variable. Otherwise White Lies wouldn’t have been able to come up with something as moodily epic as Is Love, the opener, which sounds like an artful updating of a Bauhaus song with added synth swirls. It’s big and bold, with an industrial undertow.
On Stranger, perhaps the album’s highlight, McVeigh sings “I’ve got a sense of urgency, I’ve gotta make this happen – no stone unturned” over a musical backing that displays more of a grasp of pop than anything they’ve done before. It’s still ponderous and slightly melodramatic, but it has a lift to it and doesn’t bury its hooks.
White Lies go for the big chorus on the crushing Bigger Than Us, and in doing so show how stadium-friendly their sound is becoming. It’s a bruiser of a song with electro propulsion driving it along.
Not afraid to push it out a bit, a track such as The Power and the Glorysounds like Kate Bush having an industrial-goth moment. It’s of a different pace and tempo to anything else here and shows a new flexibility to their sound, as well as a willingness to embrace rhythms they previously would have run away from.
If there is such a thing as “prog goth”, White Lies frequently find themselves in that category here. Not everything works ( Bad Lovestarts off nowhere and barely moves along), but overall this is a beguiling work and a steady step-up for a band who are really hitting their stride. See whitelies.com
Download tracks: Strangers, The Power and the Glory