Previous albums from London trio White Lies have been received reasonably well, but beyond a handful of exceptional tracks, ‘To Lose My Life…’ and ‘Ritual’ are, overall, both mediocre albums. ‘Big TV’ is the band’s third effort, and perhaps might break the trend that has developed over the course of their previous LPs.
As the album title suggests, White Lies retain the grandness and hugeness which characterises their sound. Big TV is a typical White Lies track; McVeigh’s deep, booming voice dominates the vocal palette, while a strong drumbeat, steady bassline, distorted guitar, and synths all gradually enter, combining to create a massive crescendo. A wistful guitar riff eases the song to a sombre conclusion. Despite dark lyrics, and a gloomy, brooding overtone to the band’s work, White Lies have never failed to be jubilantly rousing. First Time Caller mentions how McVeigh “hit a patch of loneliness, crooked and wild” yet the song resolves itself with the relieved confession “I was a first time caller but a long time listener.” The lyrics may be strange and unusual, but make sense in a slightly over-worked and roundabout fashion.
Elsewhere, Change scales back the stadium-sized choruses, and instead features a piano line that interweaves with a strong synth presence. This haunting track, thrown right into the middle of the album, shows off a more delicate side to the band, and is certainly something that we have not seen before from the group. Along with the two short interludes; Space i and Space ii, White Lies offer the chance for listeners to have a break from the intensity and severity of their other tracks. Lead single Getting Even sees the band return to more familiar ground, with a high synth riff coming in over a steady rhythm section, before the guitar comes crashing in during the chorus to beef up the sound. As always the sound is grandiose and massive in a miserably up-lifting fashion. This ability to be simultaneously dark and optimistic is perhaps White Lies’ most alluring quality. The start of Tricky To Love demonstrates the band’s tentative explorations with electronic sounds, and throughout the album the band successfully incorporate an increased use of electronics into their sound.
Unlike on White Lies’ first two albums, there are no tracks that are immediate attention-grabbers. Instead the band have presented an assortment of carefully constructed tracks that slowly grow on the listener. The moments of brief peaceful ambiance offer a refreshing change from the sometimes overpowering massiveness of White Lies’ sound and this is perhaps the decisive factor that makes ‘Big TV’ White Lies’ strongest and most consistent album to date.
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