When White Lies released the single for “Tokyo” before Five was to be released, it was like a confetti cannon going off. That song defines everything a single should be. It has that big ‘80s synth sound to go with lyrical content well out of the scope of reality yet fitting right into the context of some kind of realistic grandeur if it came with an air raid siren. “Call Tokyo, call New York, it’s the same but different, love. Call Jupiter, call Lyon, find a right and find a wrong.” White Lies is the ying and the yang. Next to a band like The Midnight playing “Crystalline,” this is one of the biggest synth-driven pop songs I have heard in a while.
Expectations are high. Does the rest of the album live up to the hype? “Tokyo” buries itself deep within the album. By doing that, when we get to the song, it stands out like a sore thumb. “Tokyo” is more accessible than the complexities within.
White Lies – Tokyo (Official Music Video)
Actually, the opener, “Time To Give” is a more sedate expressionist painting about relationships that grow older and burn out like a star. Yet, it’s an endearing poetic soundscape driven by persistent beats making us feel the song’s pulse. The sentiment dissolves into a dizzying Bowie-esque art house performance and falls downward until the only thing left appears to be madness.
This tug of war of emotions is what sums up the album. Sometimes upbeat with a post punk manic feeling like on “Never Alone” to frantic Joy Division flailing of “Jo” and synth soaring on “Believe It,” the unpredictable mannerisms of White Lies is the charm of Five. From the darkness to the light, White Lies have outdone themselves. Five is essential. I hope it to be one of the top albums of the decade.