Depression is, as any aspiring artist will tell you, a very serious business indeed. Articulating the nature of our deepest and darkest moods and making it seem genuinely heartfelt, and not like some teenage strop, is a delicate craft only a few have been capable of. I won't name-drop but you know who they are: awkward, over-sensitive, often witty, sometimes pale individuals whose sole purpose seems to be distilling the misery of the Human Condition into four minute pathos-heavy chunks. White Lies debut album struggles somewhat heroically to achieve this but sadly comes away a little trite and often clumsy at times. There are lyrics on this album that would make a sixth-form poet blush and shrink into his pea coat. Just read the lyrics to `From The Stars' and if you're not chewing your fist in cringe-ridden embarrassment after the second line then you're clearly the type of person who rates The Corpse Bride as a hard-hitting treatise on mortality.
Weaknesses aside, what really does stand out with this album though is its confident delivery. White Lies are so completely brazen about their influences and display them with so much bombast it's hard not to actually get caught up in the throbbing bass-lines and plaintive vocals. Production-wise, it errs on the side of too clean, too polished - personally, I prefer my depression with sharp edges and menace - and because of this, the whole album comes away like a jolly old romp to the Dark Side.
It'll be a long, long time before anyone matches the broken beauty of say, Joy Division's Closer or anything as uncompromising as Slint's Spiderland, for example, but in the meantime White Lies have seen fit to give us a primer version. Think 'My First Depression Record, Vol. 1'. Think 'Prozac Nation: The Musical', starring Denise Van Outen as poor Lizzy Wurtzel and you're just about there. Promising stuff.