Doom. Gloom. Gloom. Doom. Isn’t 2009 great. Just spiffing. Prices crashing, tanks massing and banks collapsing.
What a time we live in. It’s the kind of time that makes you wish you were in a band, dressing in black and performing songs of bleak, yet strangely emotionless despair… Hang on one mother-lovin’ second! We’ve just seen one of them! Hanging around here the other day, muttering darkly about wings of fire and memoirs written in blood, and other half-baked drivel.
Oh yes, White Lies couldn’t have planned this better. Not that we’re saying they have had anything to do with the current economic downturn… although, when was the last time they bought anything from Woolworths? Hmmm? HMMM?
Recession or no, for a while back there, it looked as though this was destined to be an album worth the effort. But for some reason, To Lose My Life really isn’t.
Maybe it’s the eerie, airless space that it exists in. It glows with a hyperreal sheen and an expensive gloss. Every time you hit play you can almost hear a thousand record label executives grimacing that someone isn’t treating this piece of precision engineering with the respect it deserves. You. Yes, you, you sausage fingered proletarian. Put it down and listen to something a little bit more suitable.
All of which is a little off-putting. It also has the effect of stripping the album of any humanity and accessibility, and minus those traits the lyrics resemble something a pubescent, post-breakup Morrissey obsessive would scrawl in the back of a textbook before resorting to lashings and lashings of self-harm and the music sounds more pompous than Colonel Pompous of the 2nd Battalion Pompous Division.
But what totally nails White Lies’ coffin shut is their depressing predictable placement in every single one of those ‘Sound Of 2009’ lists. You know, the ones which chastise the unwary reader for daring to presume that they might want to make some sort of unilateral decision using, I don’t know, their ears about what they might want to listen to over the following 364 days, without having their opinions filtered through 47 focus groups like some kind of critical charcoal.
However, lest we drown in this sea of negativity, there is some fun to be had here. But aside from Unfinished Business (still their best song, and the sole instance where they appear to be enjoying this just a little bit), it’s fun along the lines of ‘how many tracks on To Lose My Life can you sing Vienna along to without anyone noticing the difference’.
To which the correct answer is five. Nothing To Give is, of course, disqualified as it’s so indistinguishable from its soundalike that even Midge Ure couldn’t tell them apart.
So then. White Lies, the first dark hope of 2009, fail. To Lose My Life is an album made to a predefined plan with skill and no heart. It’s depressing for all the wrong reasons. Like your parents no doubt once said, don’t tell lies. Even little white ones.