By Carrie Mok
August 13, 2013
The problem with White Lies’ dark sound is that since their first album, To Lose My Life…, people have been eager to compare them to similar sombre-sounding greats such as Joy Division and Editors. It’s difficult to push past these expectations and develop your own mature sound but their latest record Big TV is proving to be a step in the right direction.
The unhurried but promising start of the title track ‘Big TV’ already shows a richness and depth which was frankly lacking in second album Ritual. But what is most welcome in the first song is the introduction of synths in the style of ‘80s electronica which thunder in the background. Meanwhile ‘There Goes Our Love Again’ is a punchy, in-your-face, oddity with a strange impatience disguised very well as a melodic single release.
However, the concept and narratives of some of the songs in Big TV are just as good as they always were in To Lose My Life… Although it’s disappointing that these concepts mean that the album works better in sections than as a whole, with ‘Space i’ and ‘Space ii’ supposedly well thought-out breaks but in reality out of place. ‘Mother Tongue’ and ‘First Time Caller’ do save the day after ‘Space i’ though, as they illustrate the lyrical genius of White Lies wonderfully with a cocktail of alluring storylines, pounding guitars and casual string sections. ‘Getting Even’ is one of the best combinations of all these elements and is loud-and-proud of that. ‘Change’ on the other hand is soft, but it’s a pretty number which could be easily drowned out by many of the other songs on the album especially as it comes right after ‘Getting Even’ on the track listing.
It’s funny actually because after that it’s hard to be drawn in with ‘Tricky To Love’ doing exactly what it says on the tin for the last three songs. There is the problem. Big TV is largely a very different and unique piece of work when compared to what White Lies have produced in the past and, in all fairness, it’s an appreciated change in their style. There are some gems on there but then there are a few diamonds-in-the-rough which makes the entire album feel incomplete, uninspiring and almost artificial. It is simply frustrating as Big TV starts off well and has a mid-section which shows off White Lies’ undeniable talent – but the dull comedown at the end is almost unforgivable. The only saving grace in the last section is that of ‘Heaven Wait’, with its sense of impending doom and the drumbeat marching onwards to the death of the album.