While a great and mighty assumption, many of us would like to have the ability to leap into A-ha’s “Take on Me” video and sit a spell and observe. London trio White Lies seem to harbor the same aspirations, but with INXS’s dreary “Never Tear Us Apart” video. Or at the very least, retrace the late Michael Hutchence’s footsteps as he morosely recalls love eternal while strolling through Prague. Making like a mildly sinister, chest-beating younger brother of Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears and the Killers, or Interpol slam-dancing against Duran Duran, White Lies’ sophomore effort Ritual is unfailingly earnest in its dedication to big-hearted but hard-edged dark-synth anthems (under keen guidance from mega-producer Alan Moulder) populated with the same kinds of girls immortalized in Joy Division songs.

Singer Harry McVeigh sings like an actor and croons with a sense of claustrophobia and storm clouds (and a dash of My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way), although the material is not as subversive or despairing as the melodramatic sonics suggest. In fact, much of it is downright reminiscent of “Mr. Brightside,” as McVeigh intones, “I got a sense of urgency. I gotta make something happen. No stone unturned…,” during album highlight “Strangers,” or The Cure with “Come Down” (“Time is like a wave that washes all the pain away”) and “Streetlights” (“So tired of picking skin just because it’s something to do”). Ritual is a worthy effort of emotive paeans to stifled dreams, broken hearts and empty beds, (opener “Is Love” is the right kind of earworm for winter), but in all recalls too much of the underappreciated Cinematics and massively popular Editors to achieve much in the way of a genuinely boffo breakout. (Geffen/Fiction) –Carrie Alison

  1. [...] seven-city Spring tour of North America in support of their recently released sophomore effort, Ritual. Set to kick off on May 17th at Boston’s historic Paradise Rock Club, the trek will wrap just [...]