Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Early on, during the song "Fifty On Our Foreheads," there's a quilt of darkness that's dotted with our teardrops, hitting the fabric with a plop and a washing, blending of the blackness into a grayness and running with the southern momentum downward. It's a sentiment that initially weaves toward us as one of bleak proposition, an apocalyptic dramatization, of swelling bankrupt light, of all night all of the time. It could just be a comfort thing - this quilt of darkness poised as a saving grace and as a hiding place, somewhere to tuck under, to become a bump and just disappear from any of the serious matters and disasters that lurk on the other side. The song is credited to the English band White Lies, a band of massive scope and the kinds of promising hooks and choruses - all as black as the ace of spades, but hinting at intense vulnerability - that could produce thunder and scare out the lightning. Lead singer Harry McVeigh has a doldrums-y way about his words, focusing on the sky falling more times than not instead of the smells from any roses that may line his walking path or lane. He's content to bring his most harrowing and haunting worries to the floor, or to the table, to shuffle with them, to look them in the eyes and really get a feel for what they might be capable of doing to him. He seems to have determined that they pose enough of a threat to not make light of them, using very strong imagery to describe all of the things that he's finding himself sorting through. It's not music to take tea or coffee with, but music to chain smoke to, letting yourself slip into a tunnel that has only the faintest speck of light at either end that may or may not indeed be safety or salvation. It could just be a patch of paint on the wall of a dead end. McVeigh sings, "Yes, this fear's gotta hold on me," on the song "Death" and it's then that one recognizes that his fears are not irrational in their construction or in his harboring them through everything. They are not built the same way that concerns about the bogeyman or an empty house in the middle of the night are, but instead made of the most natural frights that everyone holds the seeds to. The fear of dying. My goodness, how much scarier can something get - that idea of not being here anymore, of just expiring? McVeigh conveys that and all of the other fears of miscellany in ways that Robert Smith sings to us about his fears of missing love. It's moving and enchanting and it actually makes one start to feel that fear boiling, rippling up in your own mind. You start getting worked up as Charles Cave's bass and Jack Lawrence-Brown's drums continue to smoke those fears out with their tumultuously midnight grievings. It's enough to make you run through a wall screaming or jump off an 80th story balcony, thinking that there's no escape from any of it. It could consume you. It could eat you alive - bones, clothes and all. Or it could just sit with you, listening as you talk it out, as you run through the scenarios and just stew in it all for as long as you continue to move about, kick and tick.