DESPITE their name, White Lies is devastatingly honest and brutally honest. In an unstable world of fleeting tastes and rapidly passing fads, London’s indie rockers speak and play from their hearts.
Their powerful, uplifting yet cutting sound comes as a defiant response to a narcissistic, image-obsessed world of minute attention spans, and a music scene dominated by postures of empty vessels hitting the disposable digital equivalent of the dump. It’s no wonder no one cares about owning music anymore.
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Well, not everyone, perhaps, because the trio Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown are now on their sixth album. And 15 years later, they sound as fresh and euphoric as when they first stepped onto the cooler stages of east London after ignoring their former incarnation of indie dance group Fear of Flying.
The new album, As I Try Not To Fall Apart, is the band’s highlight so far. And it is undoubtedly a creature of the pandemic.
“Just as our debut record will forever be contextualized with the ‘coming of age’ period we were going through as boys/men, this album will always remind us of when it was made – it’s inevitable,” says Charles.
“But much of the art created during wars has no guns, horses or chariots to be seen.
“When I listen to what we’ve done, do I think of the pandemic? Absolutely not. Like most people, much of our effort during these often indefinite days was spent doing everything we could to avoid the news…real life.
He continues, “For my part, I found myself diving headfirst into creativity by writing on my own during that first sixth month. I felt like a child trying to avoid painful reality with fantasy…experimenting with more arrangements (like on Roll December and funk-prog rocker Am I Really Going To Die?) than I had never felt free before.
“Why? Well, why not I guess? I had no desire to write about world events. But of course, I was responding creatively to the emotions caused. It’s a record filled with anxiety and sensitivity .
“I can’t lie, I felt and continue to feel pretty broken. Undoubtedly, it’s best explored in the title track, As I Try Not To Fall Apart: ‘Am I a flawed man, so tender at heart?’
“We wrote the song quickly, late one night, and often the songs that come fastest are written from the gut and the heart, not the head.
“We wanted the melody to sound like an anthem, to give weight to the confessional lyrics despite being wrapped like a pop song.
“It’s about accepting vulnerability as a man and knowing that it’s okay to be broken. There’s never been a more pressing time to get the message across that it’s okay to be broken. not go well.
The track, a nice slice of euphoric pop, is accompanied by a video made by James Arden aka The Trash Factory which saw singer Harry buried in the sand.
“The track made me think of people trying to get out of emotional spirals, navigating feelings of fragility and struggling with everyday pressures just to be able to stay together,” Charles explains. “And it got me thinking about how we can be buried and overwhelmed by our feelings and our emotions, and how we could explore that, visually.”
“Being buried in the sand was too crazy to pass up,” adds Harry. “The feeling was really scary and I was picking up sand from my ears for days, but I’m thrilled with the video, it really carries the song’s message and it’s beautiful.
The song itself evokes feelings familiar to most of us who went through that weird time when it seemed hard to imagine things returning to normal.
“And while our Earth was riddled with this virus, Elon Musk kept leaving it for Mars?” he says.
I can’t imagine anything worse, I thought. I will stay here and “return to dust” with my loved ones, thank you.
His response, I Don’t Want To Go To Mars, along with Breathe and 80s acid house tracks referencing Blue Drift, were recorded with his bandmates when they were finally able to reunite after the compulsory separation which saw him and Jack write apart. . We’ll probably never do an album like we did this one again,” he says.
It was an arrangement he describes as “sometimes uncomfortable and presented an added strain”.
None of that now – we hope. The band can finally spin and pick up where they left off, sharing their shady, hook-laden electro-pop bangers. And that includes a trip to Cowley Road on March 25 for a show at the O2 Academy in Oxford – formerly known as Zodiac, of course.
The East Oxford date is followed by shows across Europe, from Paris to Helsinki, from Lisbon to Warsaw.
“Now we can finally get back on the road!” he says. “We can take this unique body of work to all the places we have not been allowed to visit since 2019. Oxford is a first step. We have played at Oxford so many times.
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“From the early days of Fear of Flying backing indie bands at The Zodiac to euphoric hits like White Lies, it’s always been a friendly town and given us a rowdy following. Not surprising given the student population. I can only imagine how ready these students will be this time around having starved for live music for so long!
“We always spend the day walking around and visiting colleges and grounds. Will the weather be good enough for our first punt this time? We can only hope.
White Lies’ sixth album, As I Try Not To Fall Apart has been released.
The band will perform at the O2 Academy in Oxford on March 25.
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