To coincide with the release of their new album, Five on February 1st, 2019 via [PIAS] Recordings and a decade of their existence; White Lies have embarked on an international tour. XS Noize caught up with the West Londoners on their North London leg of the tour at the Kentish Town Forum.
Whilst the Forum is not the largest London venue, it was ram packed with ecstatic and enthusiastic fans like sardines. The set began with the opening track from new album Five, Time to Give. This seven and a half minute instant classic, the longest song the band have written to date impressed with its weirdness and wildness. White Lies quickly immediately proved that still have more to offer than their classic hits. Farewell to the Fairground followed which increased the crowd’s physical movement and raised the decibels of chanting the lyrics several decibels louder.
White Lies would play seven new tracks of Five including Kick Me, quirky from a White Lies perspective whilst also bearing some resemblance to Radiohead’s Lucky. Death followed with its understated nineties club classic piano keys to the up-tempo beat before exploding again with a chorus emitting an adrenaline-fuelled rush as experienced on Muse’s Plug in Baby. New song Tokyo, paying homage to eighties electronica appropriately followed. Big TV, the opener for White Lies third album with the same title fuelled similar excitement.
Dropping the synthetic production on the drum beats on To Lose My Life live was an excellent decision allowing the two thousand five hundred collective to receive maximum enjoyment from the first single which brought White Lies mainstream acclaim. Whilst it is fair to say that to summarise White Lies sound is to describe it as indie with eighties electro with Joy Division and New Order influences; there were also digressions from this signature sound too. For example, There Goes Our Love Again sounds like The Buzzcocks. Likewise Is My Love Enough is a cross section of Tears for Fears and Men with Hats’ Safety Dance. Following an encore and two further songs; White Lies concluded this leg of the tour with Bigger than Us. Whilst Bigger than Us failed to make the UK top 40, it did not stop other acclaimed acts including Josh Groban covering it on his latest album Bridges.
From the moment White Lies entered the stage, they had an understated, sombre presence. Perhaps this was because they were adorned in minimalist, sanguine, plain black clothing. The plain yet forceful intervals of white, crimson red, blue and occasional light purple lighting helped to amplify White Lies sound. Their use of lighting (albeit slightly more domineering) was similar to what Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club used when they played at this venue last summer. Like Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club, White Lies have been able to stick to the template of their initial signature sound from their debut LP, To Lose My Life… and keep it fresh and reimagined with each subsequent album. The warm reception to the new songs off Five verifies this. Harry McVeigh recently told XS Noize, “When Charles and I started writing this album, we approached it like we approach all of our records”. Therefore, if it is not broke, don’t fix it.