Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ritual | White Lies

Last summer I discovered the indie band White Lies after hearing one of their songs on a television show. After looking it up online, I decided I wanted their 2011 album, Ritual, figuring that I'd probably like the album after hearing a couple of cool songs.

Before I begin my review, I'd like to bring your attention to the album cover. It's like those creepy little girls from The Shining grew up.
(If you're not a Stephen King fan, you probably have no idea what I just said.)

"Is Love" is the first track, opening the album with a soft rumbling sound, eventually making way for drums and their relaxing singer, whose voice will appeal to fans of Dave Gahan (the lead singer of Depeche Mode) or at least remind people of electronic '80s music. As the song progresses, more of the band comes in but it's still relatively mellow up until the end, with smile-triggering lyrics.

"Strangers" has a similar feel, though the '80s vibe isn't as potent. I really enjoyed the lyrics, but it's not one of the best tracks. However, "Bigger Than Us" is the standout track from the album in my opinion. It has a pulsating, electronic flow in the verses but the chorus explodes in sound, Harry McVeigh's voice nearly blending with the instrumentation. It's not necessarily upbeat, but it's not necessarily mellow. Either way, "Bigger Than Us" is a rather relaxing song that I became addicted to as soon as I first head it.

"Peace and Quiet" comes next, and the opening organ makes me think of Napoleon Dynamite. The '80s vibe is definitely back, and slowly but surely, strings and synths overlap before the singing starts. This track's chorus gets a little too repetative, but not annoying or bad in any way, and the instrumentation after than is quite cool sounding and goes on until the end.

Next, "Streetlights" brings a somewhat different feel with its string line. Harry McVeigh, their lead singer, tends to sound a bit bored in the verses, primarily because the lyrics talk about boredom, and that makes the whole thing feel sort of different. It's very catchy though not one of my favorites.

Finally, another standout track! "Holy Ghost" is likely the most likely song on the album to spark widespread appeal since it's relatively upbeat and makes me feel like dancing - especially that explosive ending! But since it's a White Lies song, it's relaxing somehow, too. I will admit, the lyrics are a bit odd and confuse me... I don't like being confused by poetry since I usually understand it... Anyway, the bottom line is that this song is pretty awesome.

The rock/electronic intro of the seventh song, "Turn the Bells" is very intriguing, slow, and dreamy. Kind of like Harry McVeigh's voice. And it remains that way throughout. Its simplistic yet moving lyrics contain more imagery than most lyrics today, and altogether, this song is kind of beautiful in some way; I love it.

"The Power and the Glory" follows, but doens't really do much for me at all. It's not bad, but not what I'd call good either. It's the most bland song on Ritual. But, the '80s feel is back full force in "Bad Love," another of my favorites. I can't tell you how many times I've sang this one in the shower; it's so catchy and beguiling. Though the lyrics are specific (just in the verses), I think they're something everyone can relate to. Really, that's the beauty in the lyrics of indie music: You can relate despite it isn't specifically directed at you.

The last song is called "Come Down," opening with a haunting feel and giving me chills in a timely manner. Again, the lyrics are relatable on just about every level. Vocal layers build to become choral at the song's climax, and the sound is great. "Come Down" was clearly the best choice for the closing song.

Ritual is a great album and is just a few songs short of being called a masterpiece. I consider six of its ten tracks to be awesome standouts, but not one of its ten songs were bad in any sense. It will have an appeal to a large audience since it will attract mainstream lovers despite it's quite independent. Such independence will not disappoint those with high standards for a more unique sound. Plus, the lyrics on this album were commendable.

I truly enjoyed Ritual and I reccommend it to just about anyone who appreciates quality music.

4/5 Stars

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