White Lies introduced themselves to the international music scene in 2008 with a wonderfully 80’s inspired, yet modern pop album titled “To lose my life….”. They have since followed this up with their recent release “Ritual”. The title alone lead me believe that I might expect something very deliberate and inspired, maybe even spiritual. After my first listen I must admit that I was a little disheartened in regards to what I was hearing. Yes it was unmistakable, there were definitely synthesizers being used.

OK so hear me out. I get this feeling with a lot of bands after the write the first album they are under the pump from their label to get a second album into the market before too long passes and their brand becomes forgotten. Song writing is not necessarily the strength of a lot of bands, so the label brings in a big time producer who takes over and repackages a band’s brand.

“Streetlights” possesses a very Joy Division ‘esc vocal to it which I haven’t seen on their previous work. This however develops throughout the track and is really nice piece of songwriting and to boot, is the most in touch with their debut album in terms of a nice clean sound with the subtle introduction of the keyboards in the background, showing a transition into a new direction. The album actually starts out quite nicely with “Is Love” and “Bigger than Us” as two very enjoyable tracks to lead off the record. And then things start to feel forced.

“Holy Ghost” opens with a very industrial sound which develops further throughout the track. I don’t know if this is an insult or not, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Mighty Boosh when listening to parts of this track. The more I listen to this track the more that aspect makes me laugh so I guess that means a tick for the insult column. Last year I fell in love with Band of Skulls who had a wonderful album with a single track which made my skin crawl. This song achieves the same feat for me, yet I don’t get the feeling that the rest of the album is strong enough to warrant using the skip button to move past it.

“Turn the Bells” begins with a yet another confusing industrial sound and then kicks in with a very cheesy sounding synthesizer however by the time it reaches the chorus, the different aspects start working together and reach a purpose. Despite this, I still am left with a dirty taste in my mouth. This track though displays the most organisation and structure of all of the songs on the album and I get a feeling that it could have been much more than what was delivered, time will tell. This seems to follow on with the track “Peace and Quiet”, which gives the expectation of a soft and delicate tone through the song which is achieved to a degree. What really gets on my nerves in this track is the drum machine and for a portion, more synthesizers, that has been used in this track really detracts from what it seems is the original intention when the title of the track was penned. To me this track is again showing promise and potential, yet just has too many distracting factors that are pulling me away from the meat of the song which feels a little rare for my liking.

This is an album that has clearly been written with a particular portion of the market in mind and I feel that they may find some success within that group. I find that with “To lose my life…” they managed to reach a greater audience through the use  of big vocals, traditional band structure and easy to follow pop songs. Every band should move in a new direction at some stage in their career, despite this, The White Lies seem to have made their transition for the wrong reasons. This album feels unfinished. The back end of the album gives the impression that they are stalling or at least are not clear in what the songs are trying to achieve. There is definitely enough signs of life on this album to suggest that we haven’t seen the last of a very talented band, but there will need to be some soul searching before they will be moving in the right direction again. I get the sense that this will be an album that will split White Lies fans and fail to attract a lot a new ones. Given some more time to ensure that every aspect of every song is serving a purpose might have lead this to be a great follow up album, unfortunately it falls frustratingly short of the mark. This is definitely not the heavenly experience I was hoping for and was surely lacking the emotional pull I was longing.

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