Title: Bigger Than Us
Artist: White Lies
It's still a little difficult for me to think of the 1980s as a period ripe enough for nostalgia but such is the nature of aging, I suppose. I awoke late one night in 2011 to the television blaring the final minutes of David Letterman (yes, when you're old, you consider 12:20AM to be late and you're already asleep and you have the TV turned up too loud because you can't hear) and managed to catch a performance of "Bigger Than Us" by the London-based band White Lies. It stuck with me and I picked up a cheap copy of their new record a few days later.
I suppose it shouldn't surprise me to hear a band so young playing a well-worn style—I was listening to and playing music from the 60s and 70s as a teen in the 1980s—but it does a little. I also feel I can precisely date this sound to 1986 or 1987. Still a huge Rush fan, I was entrenched in their latest releases Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, which I knew even then weren't that great but I listened to them over and over until I convinced myself they were. There are sounds on "Bigger Than Us" that remind me of those records, especially the synth patches and echoing guitar stabs. But no moment reminds me of those records more so than than the breakdown that occurs at 2:40 which lacks only a set of Rototoms and an Alex Lifeson guitar solo to be complete.
Of course, the obvious difference between White Lies in 2011 and Rush in 1986 is the lead vocalist. Harry McVeigh's voice is more in line with British offerings of the 80s invasion (think Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen or [my fav] Icicle Works) and much more palatable in this context than Geddy Lee's nasal tenor ever was. But the song's minor key grandiosity (especially during the chorus) and somewhat robotic groove justifies the unusual comparison, I think. Or not. I could be wrong. (P.S. Check out the silly, overblown video—if you've ever seen a late 80s Rush video, you know this would fit right into the canon.)
Feels good to be back. See you tomorrow.