Often, when someone says an album is a grower, it’s taken as a negative; basically just like saying “I didn’t really like it when I first heard it”. Not so in the case of White Lies’ second album, Ritual.
I had loved the band’s first album; To Lose My Life… and played it inside out for a good few months after first obtaining it, back in 2009. I had also instantly loved the lead single from this album, Bigger Than Us, with its ET inspired video and anthemic chorus. So I was expecting to fall for this album too. And I did, after a few listens!
The opening song, Is Love, starts off pretty slowly, and then suddenly kicks into some electronic beats that I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t sold on this one straight away, but after a few days with the album, I have been singing it in my head in the supermarket, surely the sign of a catchy tune? And catchy is something this band does well. This album doesn’t quite hit the highs on that score, like the previous one did with the impossible-not-to-sing-along-to Death, but there are plenty of choruses that stick in your head, such as those of Bad Love and Strangers: both solid sing-along-in-the-car type tracks. Peace and Quiet is a much slower song, but again it has a chorus that makes you want to listen.
So, we know White Lies can do a good tune, but what of their lyrics? Well, that’s the bit that you have to overlook a bit when you are listening to this album. Case in point, Streetlights; whilst it opens with the perfectly enjoyable lyric “Hold tight for heartbreak/Buckle up for loneliness” it also contains the questionable “Bad sex and ethanol/High scores on solitaire”. That said, I do actually like this song, again it’s catchy, and I’m a sucker for a catchy pop tune.
I reckon that this is an album that takes time to get into. I’m glad that I was reviewing it, otherwise I might have not given it the notice that it deserved, and written it off as an average second album with one great track. If you liked the first album, then the chances are that you’ll like this, and if you’re one of the people that compared them unfavourably to a number of iconic 80s groups, then this won’t change your mind either!