by White Lies

For anyone who has passed through Ealing, or even worse lived there, they will know it can be a depressing place. No surprise then that there’s an audible disturbance throughout this trio of Ealing-ites’ second album, the follow up to their number one debut To Lose My Life.

boom - White Lies - Ritual album image

Ritual takes on a veritable industrial landscape from beginning to end. ‘Is Love’ feels like it could be an anthem to a Russian production line making heavy artillery. A beat soon starts that gives it a softer pulse – a sign of life. Thankfully some driving guitars swing in from the rafters, giving it a curious eighties vibe.

That vibe continues with ‘Strangers’; synths and guitars battle it out for supremacy, the result being a semi-satisfying tie. This is rock forged in darkness.

Just when you thought that Harry McVeigh’s vocals couldn’t get any deeper or sinister he appears to discover an even lower octave on ‘Bigger Than Us’. This track has stadium rock written all over it; you can see it doing laps in the grounds, with wave after wave of guitar riffs. It’s loud, but never feels momentous.

All the knobs get turned down for ‘Peace & quiet’, rather refreshingly. It reveals just a hint of vulnerability. Until McVeigh opens his big gob again. Thankfully his drone gets drowned out in places, which can only be a good thing.

By the time ‘Streetlights’ reaches your ears, you begin to realise that White Lies really only have one string to their bow. It’s all so unnecessarily repetitive. More drone; more keyboards; more guitars. Whatever.

“You were writhing on the floor like a moth in molasses, whoever taught you to move your body like that?” – it’s the opening line to ‘Holy Ghost’ and could quite easily be our favourite line from a song this year. It’s a diamond in a mountain of shit though. To be fair, it might not be such a one off gem, but McVeigh’s vocals are so grating, you may find yourself desperately trying to ignore it.

Skip track 7 – ‘Turn the Bells’.

Oh no, not another one. Skip track 8 – ‘The Power & the Glory’.

All the bluster and epic-ness that launched the album seems to have run its course by ‘Bad Love’. This is nothing more than a disappointing cul-de-sac.

There’s a sense of relief by the time ‘Come Down’ arrives. By this point, you may have given up the good fight, so you could just be content to let it wash over you. The end is nigh after all.

The first half of Ritual certainly showed some promise. The second half though – well, it was all downhill from there.

Most of the problems stem from singer McVeigh; his voice can do any version of loud you want, but just don’t expect any emotion. The only thing it resonates is depth and volume, like a noisy submarine. It’s as if he is striving to stamp his masculinity on every track, at any cost. With little variation on the same theme however, it’s just like a singing version of that voice you get in Post Office queues - “Cashier number 2 please”, but just that little bit deeper.

Overall it’s a bold attempt, but sadly it truly runs out of steam by the end. Now that is depressing.

three out of five