White Lies – 5

‘Five’ attempts to shake things up without losing their distinctive sound.
Label: PIAS
Released: 1st February 2019
Rating: ★★★

“Over fifteen years, we’ve talked about it all…” sighs Harry McVeigh on the opening ‘Time To Give’. While they may be referring to relationships, the need to keep things fresh when it would seem easier to keep having the same conversation is just as true for bands like White Lies – a group that came in singing about death and have barely lightened up since. Ten years down the line, the need for a fresh approach appears to be weighing heavy on their minds.

Thankfully then, ‘Five’, their cunningly titled fifth record, attempts to shake things up slightly without losing their distinctive sound. That opener is a bold start, seven minutes of early-Depeche Mode style synths surging and stretching at the parameters of their traditional style. ‘Kick Me’ is a widescreen moment, the band slowing down yet beefing up their sound into a muscular stomp. There is a middle-section run of tracks that sees the shackles coming off, the huge power-pop chorus of ‘Tokyo’ sounds triumphant, whereas ‘Denial’ is a testament to a band who are plainly re-energised.

There’s the odd slip along the way. McVeigh’s vocals never sound anything less than portentous, making the softer ‘Finish Line’ sound over-wrought. And while they have always worn their influences on the sleeve, ‘Never Alone’ may as well credit Peter Hook on bass as it creeps over the line between homage and copy. But these missteps are few and far between – for the most part ‘Five’ sees the band succeed in finding new ways to have those conversations after all.

Jamie MacMillan

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