Sound: White Lies is a trio from London. While in the past favorable comparisons have been made calling them as good as Editors, that is all they have. They haven't molded themselves into their own unique identity. They have been commercially successful; first two albums debuted at number one and number three, respectively on the UK albums charts. With "Big TV," their third album, they have found their identity.
After listening to the album all the way through, my first observation was of the album's overriding sense of melancholy. This is brought on by the vocals, for the most part, vocals that are sung in a lower, deeper range. In addition, a reverb effect hits the vocals most of the time that give them a sort of tunnel effect that also contributes to the sense of melancholy on this album.
Other than this sense of melancholy, which I somewhat dislike but others may favor, this album is nearly a classic. The music is incredible. I mean, if one were to pay close attention, he/she would realize that the musical parts of each song are simple and somewhat repeated throughout the album. But if just listened to on a casual level, the feeling is amazing. The album flows well with each song successfully blending into the next. Furthermore, I'm fairly sure this album is a concept album detailing the simple story of a girl who leaves a small town for the big city, and the relationship issues/changes that occur due to this.
On a different front, though this album is not anywhere near the musical realm of either doom metal or shoegazing, it is similar in that it is very much an experience in the same way as the music from these genres is. To put it bluntly, that's how "Big TV" comes across, as a surreal experience. Once the listener puts him/herself in this mindset, the subtle changes in the drumming, the texture of the keyboards, and the directed placement of the guitars come alive. This album is not a heart-pounding rocker, or a mosh pit-creating metal anthem, or an enigmatic noise-rock wall of sound. This album is an aura, a sixth sense, a transfixion. When I listen to this album, I can just close my eyes and fall asleep. And I mean that in the best of ways.
How does this album achieve such a thing? The synthesized keyboards are a large part of it because they are the main musical force on this album. The drums also add the signature sound of the album by contributing the perfect amount of flair to the sound. Like on many albums, the drumming is elementary from a technical standpoint but is so tasteful that it nullifies this critique. But the greatest contributor to the aura that this album emits is the guitar. Like the drumming, the guitar work is very simple and doesn't seem to use any advanced, or even intermediate, techniques. However, guitarist Harry McVeigh carefully chooses when to play, always coming in at opportune times that make the guitar the center of attention in an incredible way even though the parts are not groundbreaking. In addition, even though the guitar parts are simple, they feel completely new and exciting every time they sound. // 8
Lyrics: Like everything else on the album, the vocals are not amazing as an individual entity, yet when mixed with the music, they are tasteful. Still, these vocals could not stand alone without the music to support them. The reason the vocals could not stand alone is because the melodies are fairly standard and because McVeigh's vocal range is limited, probably to keep in line with the melancholy theme of the album.
Lyrically, the album tells a story about a girl moving to a big city from a small town and leaving her boyfriend behind. This story isn't as standard as my description would seem to indicate. The whole album appears to follow the same storyline. // 7
Overall Impression: The vibe delivered from this album is classic. Though for the most part, the individual parts are not incredible, they each have a well thought out taste. This combined effort of all the aspects of the musical experience put this album for me, in the realm of the classics, at least for this genre. Everything melts together into one voice that grabs the listener and never lets go. Though this album is solid throughout, I still have some favorite tracks. They are "Big TV," "There Goes Our Love Again," and "Goldmine."
The more I think, the more I realize that I may be out of my mind. Maybe, this is a fluke and White Lies will never sound like this again. Maybe they aren't an amazing group.
But if truth be told, this album is spectacular.
A classic. // 10
- Parker Abt (c) 2013