[21 August 2013]
Big TV is the third album to come from British indie rock band, White Lies. The album is loosely based on a narrative, as revealed in an interview with NME, of “a couple who leave an unidentified provincial European area for a much bigger, more glamorous city.” It sounds like an idea for a low budget indie film and the album certainly has a cinematic feel to it. There are catchy, loud, choruses as well as dark, haunting moments, but there’s nothing more to the album. There’s no spark.
When babies cry, some parents adopt the approach of ignoring the baby, no matter how loud the screams become. Others run over at the first hint of noise, cuddling, feeding, and rocking the baby till it calms down. This is, in some ways, how people might approach Big TV. For some, just because a band sings loudly and has extravagant choruses doesn’t mean they’re worth anyone’s time of day. Others jump at the first sound of big guitars and loud choruses, and relish the prospect of being able to listen to a song alone in their bedroom, while imagining they’re in a muddy field surrounded by thousands of sweaty revellers, all singing and jumping to the same tune.
Unfortunately, if one strips down the songs on Big TV, they become confusing and nonsensical. ‘‘Be Your Man’’ has a catchy chorus, but lyrics that can leave you scratching your head. I’m sure some people can find real meaning behind the song, but the majority probably won’t even address the lyrics, as they are smothered by a catchy melody and loud instruments.
Another big flaw is that while there are some huge, crowd rousing songs, the other songs don’t reach these heights. The album can be summed up as an album of two halves. The first contains songs that people will sing along to loudly, such as opening track ‘‘Big TV’‘, ‘‘First Time Caller’‘, and ‘‘There Goes Our Love Again’‘. The second half is where the album dips significantly, in quality and energy. The flow of the album is also jolted by two relatively pointless interludes which do very little to enhance the sound.
Big TV is a fitting name for the album. It is big, and it has the same presence that a 60-inch plasma TV has in a living room. The motto ‘bigger is better’ has dominated the world in many aspects, from technology to food, but sometimes, stripping something back can be the best way to make it stand out. This can be seen on one of the most beautiful tracks on the album, ‘‘Change’‘. It’s a soft song, without the crashing guitars and bashing drums. Lead singer Harry McVeigh sounds flawless, and it’s one of the standout tracks on Big TV.
‘Slow’ is the opening word of the album and it’s a good way to describe it. The big chorus’s can weigh the album down and at parts, especially towards the end, the album can have a lethargic feel. One could be forgiven for almost feeling bored as they come to the latter end tracks. Big TV is a solid album, and it very much retains the White Lies sound. For existing fans it’s worth a listen, and it certainly won’t offend, but it probably won’t convert many new ears. With main stage slots at the Reading and Leeds festivals, and an upcoming European tour, White Lies are certainly still on the radar, but hopefully, if there’s a fourth album, it will come with a little more oomph.