Acclaimed London-based post-punk act and JOVM mainstays White Lies — Harry McVeigh (vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) — released their sixth album, the Ed Bueller and Claudius Mittendorfer co-produced As I Try Not To Fall Apart earlier this year.
Recorded over two breakneck studio sessions, As I Try Not To Fall Apart features what may arguably be White Lies’ most expansive material to date with the songs possessing elements of arena rock, electro pop, prog rock and funky grooves paired with their penchant for enormous, rousingly anthemic hooks.
If you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this year, you might recall that I’ve written about four of As I Try Not To Fall Apart singles
- “As I Try Not To Fall Apart,” a rousingly anthemic yet psychologically precise character study of a desperate man, who feels hopelessly stuck in a socially prescribed “appropriate” gender role, while also trying to express his own vulnerability and weakness.
- “I Don’t Want To Go To Mars,” one of the most mosh pit friendly, guitar-driven rippers the band has released in some time that tells a story of its main character being sent off to a new colonized Mars to live out a sterile and mundane existence. The band goes on to say: “Fundamentally the song questions the speed at which we are developing the world(s) we inhabit, and what cost it takes on our wellbeing.”
- “Am I Really Going To Die,” a glittery, glam rocker centered that seemed inspired by Roxy Music and Duran Duran, but thematically touches upon mortality and the uneasy acceptance of the inevitable
- “Blue Drift,” an expansive prog rock-like song centered around the rousingly anthemic hooks that White Lies has long been known for, a relentless motorik groove, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, thunderous drumming and glistening synths paired with McVeigh’s yearning delivery. The song captures a narrator, who’s a gaping wound of heartache and despair, uncertain of their footing and on the verve of a breakdown.
Slated for an October 21, 2022 release through [PIAS], the bonus edition of As I Try Not To Fall Apart features four songs recorded during the AITNTFA sessions but were ultimately cut from the album.
“Trouble In America,” the first of the four bonus singles was centered around a John Taylor-like disco-friendly bass line, glistening and squiggling synths, thunderous drumming and a bombastic cock rock-meets-arena rock chorus paired with some incisive and politically charged lyrics about the current state in America that simultaneously seem indebted to American Psycho.
“We gave up on b-sides years ago, and went into making an album with the sole aim to fit the most cohesive 40mins of music onto two sides of a 12″ that we could,” White Lies explains. “Unfortunately, that means some music is sidelined at the final hurdle. ‘Trouble In America’ was the hardest song to leave off. It was written a couple of days after ‘Am I Really Going to Die’ and lives in the same world and energy. Desperation Funk? In this song we jump between the mind of a serial killer, and his good Christian teenage daughter as she realizes who…or what her father is and always has been. ‘My old man’s making trouble in America! Oh, lord, take the weight off me!’ she pleads over a cock-rock, Todd Rundgren-esque chorus. We have a history of bonus tracks becoming live favorites, and we’re putting a bitcoin on this horse to keep up tradition.”
The second of the four bonus tracks, “Breakdown Days” is dance floor friendly bop centered around arpeggiated piano and synth stabs, thunderous boom bap-like drumming paired with the JOVM mainstays’ unerring knack for enormous, arena rock-like hooks. But under the sleek arena pop meets house facade is a tense, uneasy song that evokes being trapped with yourself and with a significant other, and desperately trying to hold it together during the height of pandemic-related lockdowns.
“’Breakdown Days’ was written in the heart of the first UK lockdown. The song reflects my mood at the time, I felt trapped in many ways not being able to tour or to work,” White Lies’ Harry McVeigh explains. “The lyrics are about yearning to reach out about your problems but because you’re living together, in close quarters, it means you can’t totally lose your shit! I always enjoy dressing up quite dark lyrics in a pop song and I love the contrast in this track. I’m sure we all dress ourselves up sometimes!”
As I Try Not To Fall Apart Tracklisting
1. Am I Really Going To Die
2. As I Try Not To Fall Apart
4. I Don’t Want To Go To Mars
5. Step Outside
6. Roll December
8. Blue Drift
9. The End
10. There Is No Cure For It
11. Trouble In America*
12. Breakdown Days *
13. Staring At The Sun *
14. What If We’re Bad Together *
* Bonus tracks