Real Lies Album Reviews

The sophisticated monologues of the London electronic duo Real Lies have an obvious precedent. It’s hard not to compare them with 1980s synth pop-duo The Pet Shop Boys – among other similarities, including Real Lies remixing a Pet Shop Boys track, both bands feature former music journalists as lead singers.

In a 2019 interview, vocalist Kev Kharas told the Islington Gazette that “‘West End Girls’ …. has always evoked what London is to me: these grim, romantic, sweeping strings and the sense that when you listen to it you’re at the centre of your own film.”

Kharas’ monologues are grittier than Tennant’s romanticism for the Pet Shop Boys. Real Lies are from the Holloway area of London; they reference Islington and Haringey in their tracks.  Real Lies started as a trio, but singer Tom Watson left the band during the long seven-year interval before their second record.

Real Lies Album Reviews

Real Life

2015, 7.5/10
Tom Watson and Kev Kharas met while passing beer cans to each other in a club. They became flatmates, and Patrick King, who had played football with Watson as a teenager, DJed parties at their house. The trio began working on songs, and Real Life includes their early singles as part of their debut album. Real Lies is like a love letter to the late 1980s and early 1990s, with echoes of New Order and house music. Of the two vocalists, Kharas is the most intriguing, and the record can be generic when he’s not in the limelight, as on ‘One Club Town’.

This was the first track we finished, but we had a party to celebrate and made so much noise downstairs that we didn’t hear someone breaking in upstairs and stealing the laptop it had been finished on. So we had to start all over again. 

Kev Kharas and Tom Watson on Dab Housing, The Guardian

Kharas’ story-telling is often terrific – “Always thought you were holding me back/But it turns up you were just holding me together” is a typically excellent couplet from ‘North Circular’. There are some strong musical moments too – the way the woozy introduction comes out of the reporter’s question in ‘Dab Housing’ is brilliant. The record’s front-loaded – the Jean-Luc Ponty sampling ‘World Peace’ and opener ‘Blackmarket Blues’ are among the highlights.

Real Life is a promising start, but the band would become more interesting with Kharas as the only vocalist.


Lad Ash

2022, 9/10
Real Lies endured some tough times after their 2015 debut Real Life. They were dropped from a lucrative record contract at the last minute, while Watson left the band, leaving a duo of King and Kharas. But Lad Ash represents a strong comeback from adversity, a sophomore album with an unusually long gestation. The entire record is strong, but ‘An Oral History of My First Kiss’ stands out, both for an amazing title, some gorgeous music, and some of Kharas’ best lines.

There’s an awkward gap between childhood and being properly teenage. A peripheral shadowland of not quite being enough. From early on, I was obsessed with the adult world, staying up late with talk radio and strange Channel 5 sex comedies, and at wedding parties I’d be trapped in the glare of the full beams, groups of family friends and older second cousins stood about in circles – drinking, flirting, smoking… telling jokes and working up a sweat to early 90s ‘chart dance’ – less a genre or a scene, more a self-fulfilling Prodigy. I’d eat chicken legs and wonder what it was that they were all so excited about, at the same time dimly aware there were conversations happening close by between girls who were weighing up the prospect of you and laughing.

An Oral History of My First Kiss

‘An Oral History of My First Kiss’ isn’t the only highlight. Kharas’ declaration that “I’ve never been a part of something/So bliss to reminisce” is his most memorable line. ‘Late Arcades’ also captures the majestic sweep of ‘West End Girls’, while ‘Dream On’ utilises the crashing beats of 1990s house. The synths on ‘The Carousel’ are simultaneously glitchy and unpredictable, and glimmeringly beautiful.

It would be easy for this nostalgic and romantic music to tip into self-parody, but Lad Ash is front-to-back classiness.

Best Real Lies Songs

An Oral History of My First Kiss
Dab Housing
Late Arcades
North Circular
Dream On
Blackmarket Blues
The Carousel

Browse this Site's Review Archives

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these selections:

Blog Posts from Aphoristic Album Reviews

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy this random selection:

10 Comments

  1. Did you ever hear White Flowers by them? That’s the first time I ever heard them cuz it was on the Kompakt label, the German label that specializes in ambient house , or minimal techno or minimal house or whatever people are calling it this week. Lol. I listen to everything on that label and it was on one of their Ambient Pop albums that they put out every year. It was on one of the more recent ones maybe like three or four years ago. I’m not sure they ever did anything else on the label but it was credited to Real Lies and Tom Demac, another techno artist. It’s a really nice record especially the Ambient Mix. I like Real Lies on their more atmospheric stuff like that one. Although the other louder stuff ain’t bad either.

      • Yeah I like the lyrics on White Flowers. I knew they were interesting cuz I had to look up what he meant when he says “Got any more of those Gavin Hills”. I didn’t know if Gavin Hill was a person or what. When I looked it up I found two Gavin Hills, and one is a New Zealand rugby player and the other one was an Irish writer who used to write about the dance music scene for some magazine or something. That’s probably the one they’re talking about. But who knows.

  2. I’m going to start reading one of the Tin Tin books that I forgot I had on Kindle. It’s like a three books in one with three different ones. One is Tin Tin in Africa or something like that and another one is Tin Tin in the Soviet Union and I forgot the other one. A long time ago there was some comic books I used to like but I haven’t read one in a long time. A friend of mine always gave me them for Christmas gifts for some reason

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: