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Though they play it safe, White Lies provide a gateway to Joy Division and the Smiths for a new generation of punks

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On last October’s Friends (BMG) White Lies have almost all of the ingredients for greatness: the lean and direct rhythms of early U2, the airy synths of 154-era Wire, and the hopeful-albeit-dark melodic sense of New Order. But the one major component missing from this London-based postpunk trio’s formula is the actual punk—these tunes are about as edgy as a Jell-O mold. While the toothless and safe approach on Friends sounds downright menacing compared to White Lies’ earlier output, it clocks in below Interpol on the dark-and-heavy scale. Still, White Lies can play an important role in the contemporary popular music landscape despite their lack of authentic edge: thanks to their following and major-label backing, they’re a shoe-in to be the gateway drug to Joy Division, the Smiths, and the Chameleons for a whole new generation of young punks.   v

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