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White Lies - 'Five' Album Review


1. Time To Give

2. Never Alone

3. Finish Line

4. Kick Me

5. Tokyo

6. Jo

7. Denial

8. Believe It

9. Fire And Wings

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of people seem to have been posting ‘Ten Year Challenge’ photos on social media. For those of you lucky enough not to have been exposed to this latest self-glorification (wafer-thinly disguised as self-deprecation) meme, it basically involves posting a photo of yourself ten years ago, alongside a photo of yourself now. Cue lots of comments along the lines of “what was I thinking when I wore that top?” or “look how fat I was”, which can be roughly translated as “look how gorgeous I am now!” If I sound bitter, it’s probably because I am, dear reader; I will not be partaking in the Ten Year Challenge, as parenthood and a career in teaching means that I now look twenty years older than I did in 2009. Not everyone and everything depreciates with time though, some grow into their looks, some mature, and some become utterly, utterly beautiful. Like White Lies, for example.

Ten years has passed since White Lies (formerly Fear Of Flying) presented their incredibly well received, Number 1 in the Album Chart, debut studio long player, ‘To Lose My Life’ released by Polydor’s Fiction label. Quite the start. White Lies went on to produce two more albums under Fiction, whilst their fourth was released by BMG. Pretty big names, right? Unfortunately, after 2016’s ‘Friends’, the band found themselves without a label. I say unfortunately, but that’s not quite right, as the creative freedom allowed by not having publishing behemoths breathing down their neck, has allowed the Ealing trio to produce one of the most breath-taking collections of music that I have heard for quite some time. If this is what producing an album without major label finance does, then everybody should be doing it. Fans of the band will be familiar with the brooding Post-Punk New Wave Synth Pop sound that they can create, but there’s an added frisson here, especially when compared to their debut album.

Opening track and first single, ‘Time To Give’ is seven minutes and thirty-five seconds of gloriousness, simmering and bubbling with atmospheric synth, and more key changes than you could shake a Moog at, rising and falling before it eventually builds into its crashing crescendo of a climax. I know that 07:35 seems a bit excessive, and normally I’d agree with you, but I found myself wishing it had lasted longer. Fortunately it’s followed by eight equally beautifully crafted tracks, ranging from the sinister lyric and New Order-esque stylings of ‘Never Alone’ and the sinister lyric and Joy Division stylings of ‘Believe It’, to the out and out Pop of latest single, ‘Tokyo’. ‘Finish Line’ opens with an uncharacteristic acoustic guitar which eventually morphs into the more familiar synth and electric guitar, creating a complete, captivating and euphoric sound which eventually disappears into eerie silence. ‘Jo’ bursts onto the record at quite some pace, before dropping into the verse, then building into a simply anthemic chorus, but there’s a lot of anthem in this album, a lot of dark, subversive, beautiful anthem.

I’ve been listening to ‘Five’ constantly for the past week and a half, and I still don’t think that I’m ready to leave it. I’ve been trying to find the right words to express just how powerful this record is, but as someone once said (and I realise this is perhaps at odds with my role as reviewer) “writing about music is as illogical as singing about economics”. Just listen to it. Listen to it as soon as you can, and love it.

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Review - Jon Stokes

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