By White Lies
It's not easy to review an album that you don't like, when most of the music press is stating it's going to save British guitar music or something equally hyperbolic, and now I'm scared I've given away what will be the general tone of this review.
You see, whilst possibly being slightly disappointing based on live reviews, White Lies' debut 'To Lose My Life' was far from a bad record. Despite singer Harry McVeigh's vocals sounding slightly flat, and it being a little repetitive, it was absolutely rammed with huge exploding choruses, something I happen to be a bit of a sucker for.
'Ritual' opens with 'Is Love', a track full of heavy synth and brooding, but no stronger than on the debut, vocals from McVeigh. It sets the tone well for the rest of the record, given every track sounds like this one, and also establishes this album's flaw. Where is the huge chorus? Maybe they were trying to step away from that song structure, but they have completely failed to plug the gap.
So it continues, every track being pleasant enough in it's own right, yet lacking something to grip you. "In it's own right" are' the key words in that sentence because, as with the debut, it is ever so repetitive. Without the massive choruses it just descends into this bog of synths and echoey guitar. At times it is genuinely difficult to keep listening, it's not unpleasant, it's just that uninspiring.
Let's not start on the lyrics though, easily the worst part of this record. It's not like the debut set McVeigh up to be a master wordsmith, but there are moments on 'Ritual' where they are disastrous. "I heard the water beat on your skin a shower of discipline, as heavy as iron, and I imagined the hand that gripped mine now gripping the gaps in the tile" he sings on 'Strangers', and you cringe. He is so desperate to sound deep and brooding, and falls flat on his face in a pool of drawn out metaphors.
'Ritual' is not, as such, a bad album. It's perfectly pleasant to listen to, bar certain lyrical mishaps; it's just ever so boring. There is nothing about it that grips you in the way moments on the debut did, the closing minute or so of 'Death' for example, was utterly brilliant. There are so many moments on here when it should explode and it lets you down.