27 October 2009

Editors - In This Light And On This Evening

I was in HMV the other day, looking to add to my vinyl collection/addiction. Whilst having a quick flick through the CDs (remember them?) I came across Editors' rather good second album "An End Has A Start". I was horrified to notice a "One For The Lads" promotional sticker slapped on the case, as if it were a Pigeon Detectives album or a Jeremy Clarkson "Edgy & Cool Driving Songs for The Middle Aged" compilation. Now anyone who knows Editors and their music will realise this is a horrific mistake; Editors are the purveyors of gloomy rock and slightly-epic stadium indie, with the occasional nod to Joy Division. They aren't for the typical "lad". I doubt you'll hear anyone of that persuasion enthusing about Chris Urbanowicz's guitar riffs or Tom Smith's doom-laden voice in the way they would about Oasis/The Prodigy/Kaiser Chiefs/*insert generic indie-pop-rock band with a few catchy hits here*.

Anyway, the point of that long -winded and ever-so-slightly discriminatory anecdote was to illustrate that despite the indie/hipster set's usual negative point about Editors (that they went a bit Coldplay and aimed for to be on those Clarkson comps), the band was still pretty far from universal fame/acceptance. Such a thing is now probably even further away due to third album "In This Light And On This Evening". Like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs earlier this year, Editors have gone all synth in the two years since "An End Has A Start". A bold and brave move, yes, but one that works? Most certainly.

The opening title track starts off with a low, throbbing synth and stays this way for the next two-thirds of the track before exploding into an apocalyptic breakdown which wouldn't be out of place in a futuristic, sci-fi film (the band have mentioned that the album is influenced by such films, and in particular the Terminator theme). The track consists of only one, repeated verse (" I swear to God, I heard the Earth inhale, moments before it spat its rain down on me/ I swear to God, in this light and on this evening, London's become, the most beautiful thing I've seen. ") with Smith's vocals sounding reverential, brooding and resigned at the same time. It sets the tone for the remaining 8 tracks, which all seem to twist and turn in many different directions. It doesn't exactly reach "Paranoid Android" or "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" proportions, but there were certainly a lot of ideas floating around in the album sessions.

Whilst the move towards electronic music will certainly lose them a few fans, "In This Light..." has some of Editors most accessible, poppy material. "Bricks And Mortar" would be a fantasic single, if it could be trimmed down from its 6:21 running time and the amazing-but-preposterously-titled "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool", which is possibly Editors' best chorus yet. Lead single "Papillion" continues down the poppier route, but brings with it the morib lyrical side of the band. Never before in my mind have lines such as "You will choke, choke on the air you try to breathe" or "The world turns too fast, feel love before it’s gone" felt so at home in a pop song, and the chorus of "Darling, just don’t put down your guns yet/if there really was a God here/he’d have raised a hand by now" could have easily come from the pen of Richey Edwards.

Although for all the positives of the album, the novelty of 'Editors + synths' does grate after a while, with only Smith's lyrics and voice keeping some songs afloat (for example "The Big Exit" is saved just before the "skip" point by the powerful middle eighth, which is basically Smith singing alone, the electronic beeps barely in the background). Overall, "In This Light And On This Evening" is a great album, a near-classic. The only thing stopping it from reaching "classic" status is the overused synth elements (and the decision to not include "No Sound But The Wind") but from here, Editors can do pretty much anything with their sound, be it guitars, keyboards or something for the lad population, although I hope that road is blocked. Forever.
FOR FANS OF: Joy Division, White Lies, Interpol, Kraftwerk, Bloc Party
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: All, except "Like Treasure"


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