Over the past 12-15 months or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the London-based post-punk act White Lies, and as you may recall the act, which is primarily centered around its core and founding trio — Harry McVeigh (vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) — can trace their origins to a band they started while in high school, called Fear of Flying. Although Charles Cave has publicly described Fear of Flying as a “weekend project,” and one of many bands each of the individual members were involved in at the time, Fear of Flying released two Stephen Street-produced double A-side singles released through Young and Lost Club Records.
Building upon the initial buzz surrounding them, Fear of Flying earned opening slots for nationally acclaimed acts like The Maccabees, Jamie T, and Laura Marling. Along with completing one UK tour as an opener, they also played the inaugural Underage Festival. Two weeks before the trio were to start college, they decided that they would take a second gap year and perform new material, which the trio felt didn’t suit their current project. “I felt as though i couldn’t write about anything personal, so I would make up semi-comical stories that weren’t really important to anyone, not even me,” Charles Cave reflected on that period. Fear of Flying broke up in 2007 with a MySpace status that read “Fear of Flying is DEAD . . . White Lies is alive!,” before introducing a new name that the trio felt better represented their newfound maturity — and a much darker sound.
Officially forming in October 2007, the members of the then-newly formed White Lies delayed their first live shows for five months to build up media hype. And as the story goes, a few days after their live debut, the band signed with Fiction Records, who released the band’s first two singles — “Unfinished Business” and “Death,” which quickly drew comparisons to Joy Division, Editors, The Killers and Interpol. And as a result of the attention their first two White Lies singles earned, the trio wound up touring across the UK and North America, including a headlining BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend Festival set, a slot on 2009’s NME Awards tour, as well as a number of appearances across the international festival circuit.
2009 saw the release of the act’s breakthrough, full-length debut To Lose My Life, which was released on the heels of being prominently featured in multiple “ones to watch” polls for that year, including BBC’s Sound of 2009 poll and the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award. Interestingly, the album earned them the distinction of being the first British act that year to land a nubmer one album on the British Charts — and the first album to debut at number one that year.
The band’s third album, 2013’s well-received and commercially successful, Ed Bueller-produced Big TV, an album that debuted at #4 on the UK Charts. Interestingly, the album thematically follows a couple, who leave a provincial area for a big city while touching upon the theme of equality within a romanic relationship. Album single “Getting Even” managed to land at #1 on the Polish Singles Charts.
FIVE, the London-based post-punk trio’s aptly titled with album was released earlier this year through [PIAS] Recordings, and the album manages to find the band deftly balancing an ambitious arena rock friendly sound with enormous hooks and bombast for days with intimate, singer/songwriter pop lyricism that’s earnest and comes from a deeply familiar, lived-in place. Album singles “Time to Give,” “Tokyo” “Jo” and “Believe It” all describe longtime relationships on the brink of collapse or suffering through one or both parties’ dysfunction, complete with the ambivalence, uncertainty and confusion that relationships often entail — paired with some of the biggest, anthemic hooks I’ve heard all year. The album continued a run of commercially successful albums from the band, as it landed on the Top Fifteen of the UK Charts.
White Lies has been busy touring throughout 2019 to support FIVE, including a stop at Irving Plaza earlier this year. During a hiatus from touring, the trio along with producer Andrew Wells went into the studio to record new material, including their latest single “Hurt My Heart.” Interestingly, the track sounds as though it could have been recorded during the FIVE sessions as it prominently features enormous arena rock friendly hooks, thunderous drumming, an earnest vocal performance from the band’s Harry McVeigh. and a blistering guitar solo. But unlike the material off FIVE, the new single focuses on the emotional aftermath of a breakup.
“For ten years we have stayed loyal to the album format – only sitting down to write and then record when it was time for a new complete work,” the band’s primary lyricist and bassist Charles Cave explains in press notes. “Whilst there is a lot of love about that process, it is something of an endurance exercise. We decided it was about time to see what happened if we just wrote a few things with the idea to release music disconnected from an LP; something that could sit within the same universe as Five.”