The White Lies’ album To Lose My Life was one of my favourites of 2009, so the follow-up — Ritual — was much anticipated.
It’s been taking a while to grow on me; I keep zoning off, hearing reflections of the breakthrough To Lose My Life. And then suddenly, pow!, the track ‘Peace and Quiet’ pounced on my ears and tore all the way to the heart. Which is why I love music. Even the most played album, or song, can take on new shades as the years go by and life lends new perspectives.
The White Lies have pushed on a little from To Lose My Life, bringing in some synths and adding a touch of harmony. Ritual is perhaps a more subtle, mature album.
Noirish imagery and striking turns of phrase abound. The overarching mood tends towards the fatalistic: lost love and a broken planet and a society riven by loneliness. Opener ‘Is Love’ sets the scene with its cynical treatise; the album closer, ‘Come Down’, suggests the brightest moment casts the longest shadow.
Ritual might not have the instantly catchy anthems such as ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ and ‘Death’ To Lose My Life, but it does reward repeated listening. I’ll keep delving, waiting for the next little piece of emotional lightning to strike.
A review of last night’s Tycho Brahe — really hitting their chops, obviously supporting Human League has done them the world of good — gig is here.
yeah yeah yeahs, it's blitz
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz
Really enjoying bashing this album from the New York trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs and not missing the indie guitar sound at all. Of course, with a lead singer such as Karen O, they could probably make a polka album and I’d love it… hm, maybe not. Here’s a taste, the insanely catchy single Zero.
white lies, to lose my life
White Lies, To Lose My Life
Balancing out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, English outfit White Lies’ have a superb, shiny retro sound (Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen) that catches the ear. Such as on the song, To Lose My Life. Not sure how much shelf life this album will have — I’m betting more than the Killers, with whom they share some slinky rhythms — but it certainly has some strong tunes that deserve a listen.
Howling Bells, Howling Bells
On advice from Cam of Company Sin, I’ve eschewed the new Howling Bells album, Radio Wars, in favour of their self-titled debut, and am enjoying the early listens. Low Happening is a good example of their sound, stripped and a bit more miserable than their most recent effort, I’m told. Vis:
Kristeen Young, Music for Strippers, Hookers and the Odd-Onlooker
KRISTEENYOUNG, a New York-based duo, dedicate their latest album to Morrissey, with whom they’ve toured and sensationally been fired from.
They’ve certainly got the complementary dark edge, the sarcasm, the cynicism. I Won’t Be Home for Chrismas, He’s Sickened by my Crude Emotions, If You Marry Him, Comfort Is Never a Goal … there’s not a lot of sweetness and light here.
The emotions explode on this album, featuring Kristeen Young on keys and Baby Jef White on drums and percussion. The combination might bring Dresden Dolls to mind, but this is no slinky cabaret; there is little glimmer of Amanda Palmer’s trademark tease.
Young comes across like Kate Bush on speed, Tori Amos stripped of subtlety and armed with a carving knife. The album, her sixth, is produced by Tony Visconti, who’s worked with Morrissey and Bowie, on whose album Heathen Young performed.
The opening three songs are frenetic, and even the slower, more introspective Everybody Wants Me to Cry has an ominous tone to its piano.
Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Vaughn Stump guests on the catchy, sombre That’s What It Takes, Dear.
Music … is not a background album. The cut and thump of the drums; Young’s distinctive, high voice; the crash of the keys — Comfort Is Never a Goal is a good example, with its pop chorus and fractured verses _ demand attention.
Keyboard like a Gun introduces synths to offer a whimsical experimental/pop interlude, essentially bridging the 14-song album to its encore including Protestant, which comes across as a shot at her fundamentalist Christian upbringing.
Thanks to the performance, and the sparse production, there’s a live feel to this overlong album that helps make it rewarding, if not always comfortable, listening.