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With their fourth album Friends, White Lies haven't so much abandoned their trademark synth-rock sound as given it a spring clean by exploring new sounds. For many reasons, it felt like a fresh start. The trio were temporarily without a label after a bout of record company reorganization. Rather than re-sign straight away, they decided to start Friends under their own steam without the pressure of a deadline or a budget, or even the guidance of a producer.
Whatever sound each song suggested, White Lies went with it. Hence, when "Hold Back Your Love" and "Is My Love Enough" sparkled with disco grooves, they embraced it. When the beautiful ballad "Don't Fall" jettisoned their signature sound entirely, leaving only frontman Harry McVeigh's sumptuous, sonorous vocals to connect it to White Lies of old, they stuck with it. Similarly, when the triumphant "Summer Didn't Change A Thing" harked back to the arena-ready rock of their debut, they didn't mind.
The changing nature of relationships is a recurring theme throughout the album. "In the past couple of years, we've noticed friends' life situations causing them to make big decisions – marriages, kids, moving out of London," says bassist and lyricist Charles Cave. "Friendships have begun to feel adult and our perception of time has changed. As kids, if you didn't see a mate for a fortnight, you'd wonder what was wrong. Now you might not see someone for six months and it doesn't matter."
Friends was recorded in Bryan Ferry's private studio in London's Olympia and was self-produced by the band. White Lies enlisted the help of an expert team including Grammy Award-winning engineer James Brown (Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys), David Wrench (Caribou, FKA twigs) on mixing duties and long-term collaborator Ed Buller who contributed additional production.