DESPITE their name White Lies are devastatingly, brutally honest. In a fickle world of ephemeral tastes and rapidly passing fads, the London indie-rockers speak, and play, from the heart.

Their big, uplifting yet hard-edged sound stands as a provocative riposte to a narcissistic, image-obsessed world of minute attention spans, and a music scene dominated by posturing empty vessels banging out the disposable play-by-numbers digital equivalent of landfill. It’s no wonder no one can be bothered to own music anymore.

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Well not everyone, perhaps, because the trio of Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown are now on their sixth album. And 15 years deep they sound as fresh and euphoric as they did when they first stepped out onto the cooler stages of East London having shrugged off their chirpier former incarnation of indie-dance band Fear of Flying.

Oxford Mail: White Lies

New album, As I Try Not To Fall Apart, is the band’s high water mark so far. And it is Indubitably a creature of the pandemic.

“Much as our first record will forever be contextualised with the ‘coming of age’ period we as boys/men were going through, this album will always remind us of when it was made – that’s inescapable,” says Charles.

“But much of the art made during wars have no guns, horses, or tanks to see.

“When I listen back to what we have made do I think of the pandemic? Absolutely not. Like most people, so much of our efforts during those often time-vague days were spent doing all we could to avoid the news...real life.”

He goes on: “I for one found myself diving headfirst into creativity when writing alone for that first sixth months. I felt like a child trying to avoid a painful reality with fantasy...experimenting more with arrangement (such as on Roll December and the funk-prog rocker Am I Really Going To Die?) than I ever had felt free to before.

Oxford Mail: White Lies

“Why? Well, why not I suppose? I felt no desire whatsoever to write about the world events. But of course I was responding creatively to the emotions being provoked. It’s a record filled with anxiety, and sensitivity.

“I can’t lie, I felt, and continue to feel pretty broken. No doubt that’s best explored in the title track, As I Try Not To Fall Apart : ‘Am I a faulty kind of man, so tender in the heart?’

“We wrote the song quickly, late one night, and often the songs which come quickest are written from the gut and the heart, not with the head.

“We wanted the melody to feel like a hymn, to give the confessional lyrics weight despite being wrapped up as a pop song.

“It’s about accepting vulnerability as a man, and knowing it’s okay to be broken. There’s never been a more pressing time to spread the message that it’s okay to not be okay.”

The tune, a lovely slice of euphoric pop, is accompanied by a video directed by James Arden aka The Trash Factory which saw singer Harry buried in sand.

“The track made me think of people trying to lift themselves out of emotional spirals navigating feelings of fragility and fighting everyday pressures just so they can keep it together,” says Charles. “And it made me think about how we can be buried and overwhelmed by our feelings and emotions, and how we could explore that, visually.”

“Being buried in sand was too mad to pass up,” Harry chimes in. “The sensation was really chilling and I was picking sand out of my ears for days, but I’m thrilled with the video, it really carries the message of the song and it looks beautiful.”

The song itself touches on feelings familiar to most of us who struggled through that weird time when it seemed hard to imagine things returning to normal.

“And all the while our Earth was riddled with this virus, Elon Musk was going on about leaving it for Mars?” he says.

“I can’t imagine anything worse, I thought. I’ll stay here and ‘return to dust’ with my loved ones, thanks.”

His response, I Don’t Want To Go To Mars, along with tunes Breathe and the 80s acid house-referencing Blue Drift, were recorded with his bandmates when they were finally able to reconvene after the obligatory separation which saw him and Jack writing apart. We’ll probably never make an album in the way we made this one again,” he says.

It was an arrangement he describes as “at times uncomfortable and which presented some added tension”.

None of that now though – we hope. The band can finally tour and pick up where they left off, sharing their hook-laden shady electro-pop bangers. And that includes a trip to Cowley Road on March 25 for a show at the O2 Academy Oxford – formerly known as the Zodiac, of course.

The East Oxford date is followed by shows across Europe, from Paris to Helsinki, Lisbon to Warsaw.

Oxford Mail: White Lies

“Now we can finally get back on the road!” he says. “We can bring this unique body of work to all the places we’ve been restricted from visiting since 2019. Oxford is an early stop. We’ve played Oxford so many times.

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“From early days as Fear of Flying supporting indie bands at The Zodiac to euphoric headline shows as White Lies, it has always been a friendly city and given us a rowdy audience. Hardly surprising given the student population. I can only imagine how ‘up for it’ those students will be this time around having been starved of live music for so long!

“We always spend the day walking around, and visiting the colleges and grounds. Will the weather be good enough for our first punt this time? We can only hope.”

White Lies sixth album, As I Try Not To Fall Apart is out now.

The band play the O2 Academy Oxford on March 25.

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