They launched their new album in Shoreditch last night - here's the analysis
Cai Trefor

23:23 5th October 2016

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White Lies are back with their fourth album, Friends, which is coming out on Friday (7 October). They launched it last night at Kamio in Shoreditch to an intimate crowd of devoted fans who couldn't fault a moment. It was a mesmerising, flawless performance of melancholic synth rock that justifies why they're held in such high regard in this country.

Singer Harry McVeigh was on scintillating form and said "We're happy to be back even if it is a bit terrifying," He graciously thanked the audience after every deafening applause in between songs. He introduced new songs giving fans the chance to hear elements of the album before its official release. 'Take It Out On Me', Don't Want To Feel It', 'Is My Love Enough', and 'Come On' from it were all played in and amongst White Lies classics.

So if you heard those songs tonight and want to know about their creation, then check out the track by track introduction by drummer Jack Brown below. And if you missed out on the show and haven't heard the album yet whet your appetite by checking it, too.

Take It Out On Me

This is a song which we decided relatively late in the day would be the first track people heard from 'Friends', as well as being the album's opening song. We were very aware that it had been the longest break between releasing new material that we had taken as a band - 3 years, a timescale in which many bands careers can live and die in the modern age - and so we wanted to come back with energy and spirit. This song gives nods to the 80's output of the Ramones and Tom Petty in both melody and energy, and is probably the most uptempo track we have ever recorded. I feel it's a good song clean the slate with a band many people may have forgotten about over the last couple of years, and prepare people for some new music.

 

Morning in LA

This song was one of the first to emerge from the writing process, well over a year ago now. We all knew straight away that this song was going to be on the record and, most probably a single at some point. In the studio we moved the feeling of the track away from a slightly Smiths-y jangley indie song, more towards a pop song, by referencing Beat It with the groove, and really cleaning out every unnecessary sound from the production to leave very clean riffs and melodies right at the front of the track. Lyrically, this song gives one of the strongest nods to the album title, referencing the feeling of change and movement of people we've known most of our lives as we all finally start to feel a bit like something close to a grown up human adult.

Hold Back Your Love

Collectively, as a band, I'd say this is probably the song we all love the most on the record. Lyrically, musically, emotionally, I feel it is one of our most advanced and successful attempts at writing a song that feels quite timeless - despite it's clear nods to 80's pop. It's pretty synth heavy, and there is far less in the way of "big" guitars, and that is a template we followed for a lot of the songs on the record. The guitar parts are referencing artists like Shuggie Otis rather than rock bands, and the groove is a mixture of a Talking Heads stomp in the verses and sleek disco in the chorus. If 'The Breakfast Club' was released next week, this song would probably be on the soundtrack. It has that sort of joyous melancholy about it that our best songs tend to achieve.

Don't Want To Feel It All

Probably the song that pushes White Lies traditional palette of sounds furthest, with the use in the chorus of what can only really be described as digital steel drums. As a song it's a bit of a personal triumph for us as a band, as we haven't often used half time grooves in our music, and for my money this is a really successful attempt at that. The slower feeling of the song allows for more space for some quite funky bass work, as well as plenty room for big over the top tom fills (a White Lies must). The middle section ramps the song up to a double time punk track before collapsing back in on itself to what feels like an even slower and groovier chorus, with Harry playing a really quite excellent guitar solo which we lifted from the demo as he couldn't better it in the studio.

Is My Love Enough?

This is the song which will probably catch the most White Lies fans by surprise. It is very different from any previous White Lies track that I can think of, and it has it's eyes firmly of the dancefloor. It's 6 minutes of disco, full of programmed bass, and heavily delayed drum fills. We really loved mixing this track, as David Wrench (our mix engineer for the album) has worked on some incredible forward thinking dance music - Caribou, Jungle, FKA Twigs - and he was really able to help us build it up in the right way, and by the end it really is awash with percussive sounds and overlapping rhythms. We wanted some moments on the record which people could definitely dance to, and this is the best example of that. It also comes with a fretless bass warning.

Summer Didn't Change A Thing

By far the most "rock" moment on the album, this track is supposed to work as a palette cleanser at the halfway point on the record. The first track on side 2 of your vinyl. It features some quite naff sounds that we purposefully chose to use as we felt they really haven't been heard very much at all in modern music. With good reason, some prudes may argue. There is a lot of programmed synth guitar - a very unnaturally clean guitar sound, and DX-7 piano in the verse. DX-7 is a very "80's" sounding electric piano, that our friend and producer of past albums Ed Buller felt very strongly that we shouldn't use / be allowed to use. But as this was our first self-produced album we threw caution to the wind and did what the hell we wanted. And we do love it. Anyway, by the time the chorus arrives you are hit with a huge wall of guitars that render everything that has come before slightly innocuous. I really look forward to taking this song to the live stage.

Swing

My personal highlight. This song took a long time to put together from a drums point of view, as it has a fair few fiddly parts to it, but I think it comes together really well. It is a very patient song, and the pay-off comes right at the end with an outro that ranks as my favourite melodic and lyrical combination Charles and Harry have ever produced. It doesn't have any big huge moments but it is a subtle track, that I always feel could go on another minute or two when I reach the end of it. In my opinion, the most emotional song on the record.

Come On

This song has really connected well with our fans, and I know it's going to be a live favourite. It has a similar sort of long build up to our song Death, which remains a benchmark against which we measure a lot of our music. Where the previous track 'Swing' doesn't have a rock out moment after a long build up, 'Come On' really does. It's middle section refrain of "Love is just a word that ties the gap between "you" and "I" ranks as one of the best lines Charles has written for White Lies. It's a very simple lyric with real emotional impact, the sort of thing that my favourite lyricists are able to achieve and a difficult trick to pull off.

Right Place

This song only made it onto the record at the last minute, but I'm glad it did. We have a sort of unwritten rule in White Lies that an album should be 10 tracks, as it forces you to commit to songs and really try and avoid anything that might pad out an album. It's another synth heavy number, which when you consider we were recording our album in Brian Ferry's private studio with access to the keys used by Eno on the first couple of Roxy music albums, should come as no surprise. As this song was added so late in the day we gave mixing duties to Marta Salogni - David Wrench's assistant, and she tied it in perfectly with feeling that David had achieved in the rest of the album.

Don't Fall

The final song on the album and a really proud moment for us. It's a Steely Dan-esque ballad of the sort we have always wanted to write. This has my favourite vocal performance on the record from Harry. He's really channelling Bryan Ferry in this one, the vocal wavers a bit, and the effect on the vocal is actually partly down to a broken cable that gave a natural distortion. This song rounds off the album in a fairlylow-key manner, and hopefully leaves the listener wanting more.

Pre-order Friends by White Lies here

 

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