The big issues on this second album sound perfect for a manky January.
Ian Wade 2011-01-12
Ritual, this west London trio’s second album following 2009’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life, carries on much in the same vein of windswept angst set against the serious-face black-and-white press shots.
Broadening their musical palette with electronic touches and nods to Peter Hook’s bass style, Ritual’s references orbit very firmly around a lot of music made pre-1985 – lead singer Harry McVeigh has moved on from the early Ian Curtis intoning, and now has a touch of the Julian Cope about his voice – and is in thrall to the mid-00 new-wavery that the likes of Editors have made their own. It also encourages parallels with early U2, back when Bono considered Echo & The Bunnymen their main threat and before the pomposity that followed their big breakthrough. Produced by Alan Moulder, who has form with the likes of Depeche Mode, Ride, Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, it’s a step on from the sixth-form Joy Division-isms of their debut.
Highlights include opener Is Love, setting the stall out for the whole album by introducing interesting electronic elements. Strangers has a big chorus that could induce a wave of nu-goth arm-waving while soundtracking goals of the week montages, likewise first single Bigger Than Us. The Power & the Glory toys with MBV-style strafing feedback over Human League-lite touches, which is likely to invigorate the tents during the festival season, and closer Come Down channels The Killers doing Kilimanjaro (quite a good thing, actually).
Despite being disabled with rotten cover art, Ritual is a sturdy affair, and one that should continue White Lies’ steady ascent towards something serious and important. Their big issues sound perfect for a manky January, but a bit of light relief wouldn’t go amiss among the semi-overblown soundtrack to self-harming and painting-your-bedroom-black that is too often implied. But hey, it’s worked well for others – and you never know, they (and we) may wake up in a few years and find that they’ve become colossal in the States.