Under the Influence: White Lies’ Top Five

London’s post-punk dramatists White Lies are currently on their most comprehensive world tour to date in support of their second album Ritual. The band took some time out of their heavy live schedule to talk to Nick Amies about the five albums that most influenced them and shaped their sound.

Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads

There’s a certain obsession with this album in the band because its so touchingly simple and it’s a style we’ve always aspired to. Simplicity is one of the greatest and hardest disciplines to learn and David Byrne excels at it here. The circular rifts that float and repeat; the stark backdrop to each songs which slowly builds up with layers of sound, the easily accessible melodies and that unusual vocal delivery. It’s an almost perfect intellectual pop record. Plus it’s a live album which doesn’t feel like one; it just feels as though this is how the songs were always mean to sound like.

Now Here is Nowhere – Secret Machines

Coming out of the New York new wave scene of the mid-Noughties at the same time as The Strokes and Interpol, these guys were pretty much overlooked – but not by us. This is their sophomore album and it’s hugely under appreciated in our opinion. It can genuinely rival anything ever done by some of the biggest bands in rock history – it’s that good. It’s not perfect but that’s what makes it so excellent. It sounds rusty and sloppy in parts but the production is so good that you can see that it’s meant to sound that way. It has such amazing writing on it too. There’s no gloss but it’s a wonderfully atmospheric and orchestrated record.

Live at the Royal Opera House – Björk

It’s such a humbling experience listening to Björk; she’s so prolific, inspirational and original. This performance really inspired us during the making of (debut single) Unfinished Business. Her structures, chords, rhythms…they’re all so unconventional and progressive. It should really be an uncomfortable listening experience but it’s not. It’s actually very relaxing. The version of Hyperballad on here is just incredible. Again, like the Talking Heads album, this is live but it doesn’t come across as such. It has a real flow to it and a narrative despite being, essentially, a greatest hits set featuring the best of her output up to 2002. To think she is still pushing the boundaries now is frightening.

Mimikry – Alva Noto & Blixa Bargeld

We were pretty underwhelmed by new music at the time this came out in 2010 but this just blew us away. It’s an uncomfortable journey through the avant garde from start to finish; full of minimalist soundscapes, spoken word recitals and spontaneous fuck-ups. At one point there’s even a collection of anomalous sounds which are apparently the recordings of computers going wrong. It just reinvigorated us. There were no real influencing factors on the material we working on at the time but it just brought our interest back to life.

The Ideal Crash – dEUS

It may not be their best album but it has something very life-affirming that, despite what people might think about White Lies, really appeals to us. For all its faults, it’s an amazing record. Some of the lyrics are awful; the writing’s corny and odd in places and the melodies can be a bit cheesy but it gets away with it due to the kitsch factor. The musicianship is pitch perfect, however, and channels something of Radiohead’s experimentation in places. There are dissonant wig-outs where it sounds like they’re all playing different songs but it works. And then there’s teenage, sugary pop songs too. You can never second guess where they’re going to go.

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