Turn Off the Bright Lights
London-based trio White Lies have garnered quite a bit of hype in the British press over the past year after releasing some fairly formidable singles. It’s easy to see their appeal, competently blending the moody post-punk atmospherics of Interpol with the arena-filling melodies of The Killers. It’s also all too easy to greet their debut album To Lose My Life with a simple shrug. It’s an occasionally promising, often padded collection of hits and misses that finds the band already resting on limited laurels and the listener wondering what all the hot fuss was about.
It doesn’t help that the album’s best moments have all been heard before. The gradual gallop of what will certainly become their signature track, “Death,” starts everything off well enough, its intertwining guitar and synth lines and Harry McVeigh’s baritone reminding everyone of what made them likeable in the first place. Similar reminders are peppered throughout the record with other past singles “Unfinished Business” (the most Interpol-sounding one), the title track and “Farewell to the Fairgrounds” (the Killers ones).
The problem is that the rest of the album doesn’t seem up to following these songs’ lead. Several play like mirror images of their predecessors, the most egregious offender being “A Place to Hide,” which is really just “Death Redux.” Other tracks merely water down older, better ones to make lame attempts at bloated stadium balladry, as in the all too aptly titled “Nothing to Give.”
White Lies seem to possess the skills and confidence to pull off a thrilling listening experience, but To Lose My Life, with its mere EP’s worth of quality tunes, isn’t it. They need to push themselves a little harder in order to rightfully stay in the public’s ear. It would be all too tragic (and common) to see a band with such potential lose a life that’s barely begun.