Ritual

Click to listen to a live version of White Lies' "Bigger Than Us"

White Lies' 2009 debut hit Number One in England, but that doesn't seem to have done much for their mood. On its second album, the group remains as bleak as a London winter, with Harry McVeigh conjuring Smiths-style melancholy in his weighty baritone. What evades White Lies is the candid charm of his Brit-gloom forebears. The sleek synth tunes are more anthemic this time out, but the lyrics are no less overwrought: "Is Love" finds a woman "scarlet as a paper cut and jeweled as the Orion" and a man "bloodshot as a baby and sulking like a valley." And when McVeigh beats you over the head with his bummed wail on "Bigger Than Us," you'll want to slip him some Wellbutrin.

Gallery: Keep up with rock's hottest photos in Random Notes

From The Archives Issue 1123: February 3, 2011