Commercial rock, a polymorphous genre that ruled popular music for decades, has spent this one sniveling in the corner, searching for reinvention. In the United States, rock is in a state of recession, with hardly any popular rock songs, albums or bands to be found except for legacy acts and the occasional insurgent, such as post-prog heroes Muse or the masquerading pop technicians in Kings of Leon. Check the Billboard Hot 100 - it is nearly rock-free.
The trio White Lies - they're from London - is a band that almost certainly would have been more successful a decade ago, before Interpol and Editors and others distorted Joy Division's tension with a brooding palette and antiseptic grandeur for modest gains. Lead singer Harry McVeigh sings flat, literal lyrics in a dull baritone with all the charisma of a broken car alarm. "If I'm guilty of anything/it's loving you too much," goes the chorus of "Bad Love." These are the depths of his insight.
"Ritual," the band's second album and first produced by the august alt shaman Alan Moulder (U2, the Killers), features the non-innovation of the electronic flourish, which typically amounts to keyboard pangs, synthetic-sounding rhythms and the pat insertion of DJ scratches. White Lies cannot be blamed for the stasis of a once-prominent genre, but it's just one more signpost for a generation learning to live without a sound.
Recommended track: "Bigger Than Us"