Joy Division meet Billy Idol on this musical follow-up
Ritual 4/5 Cast your mind back to January 2009 and, along with the slightly chilly weather and seasonal shortage of cash, you might recall one particular rock song: new, yet naggingly familiar, and so panoramic in its sweep, so boomily resonant of chorus and doomily loud of voice that it made you cast about for a dramatic clifftop on which to pose, while narrowing your eyes at the horizon over a roiling sea. That song was ‘To Lose My Life’. The band was White Lies.
Their debut album catapulted to the top of the charts a trio who presented as serious young insects obsessed with blood, crypts, kidnappings, funerals and mental illness, and who matched their imagery with a stylish, hook-heavy blend of Joy Division, A Teardrop Explodes and (ahem) Billy Idol. If their lofty tone bordered on comical, at least it proved that indie-schmindie underachievement was not White Lies’ way, and that bassist Charles Cave was a hugely talented crafter of ginormous pop tunes.
Now, with light-handedly goth-literate producer Alan Moulder, they’ve delivered another massive, widescreen record full of clanging guitar riffs, portentous keyboard lines and Mount Rushmore-scale choruses. But if the landscape of Ritual is basically the same, a few funky new garden features are evident. ‘Peace & Quiet’ borrows from Yeasayer’s euphoric post-house pop, while the spectre of Depeche Mode haunts ‘Holy Ghost’ and there’s a little Trent Reznor in the electronically textured ‘Turn the Bells’. ‘Bigger Than Us’ underlines White Lies’ lack of interest in the ‘small is beautiful’ ethos. It’s really quite difficult not to be impressed by them.