A powerful chronicle of endless, life-induced heartbreak
London-based post-punk band ensemble White Lies, who have been compared to the likes of Interpol, Joy Division, the Editors and The Killers, released their fifth studio album in February of 2019. Accurately titled Five, this record makes for perfect listening in accordance with the rebirth which accompanies the Spring Equinox.
In a time for processing many ends, by recognition of the Life-Death cycles, Five tirelessly confronts heartbreak in its many forms in order to make room for the new. In “Time to Give,” a harmonic synthesizer beat is accompanied by the deep vocals of lead singer Harry McVeigh who brings listeners to a deep state of awareness of past relationships as he details a fifteen-year relationship which carried on longer than it should have. He describes tired lovers, one who has “time to give,” while the other has “the mind to leave.” A tragic story of love carried out to its bitterest end, McVeigh concludes by stating “Nobody cares if you’ve got time to give, it’s just a bottomless pit you’re falling in.”
“Finish Line” describes the end of such a relationship, where lovers have “dreams of the start at the finish line,” and attempt to erase memories to preserve their own sanity. In a more upbeat manner, staccato synthesizer notes, reminiscent of Duran Duran, serve as background to an anthem in which one lover reaches out for the other asking, “Where’s your message for me Jo?” hopeful of what could be. McVeigh describes the heart-wrenching dispute between the lovers in which “everything’s a wedding” but also “everything’s a fight.” “Denial” goes on to sing of the feelings which follow the splitting of hearts, once combined.
Out of all the tracks, “Tokyo” stands as the most uplifting one on the album. It speaks of love found in different cities around the world, bringing promises of a fresh love in every location. Meanwhile, “Kick Me,” “Never Alone,” “Believe It” and “Fire and Wings” speak of one’s relation to the rest of the world and the discrepancies between the intimacies of one’s own mind and the harsh reality of the outside world.
Altogether, Five showcases the growth of White Lies as a band at the individual and group level, as the record hones a level of cohesion that could evoke the envy of bands who lack such precision of identity and sound. As spring time comes into bloom, one must face the imminent end of love and life in order to see the beauty of what is to come.