Birmingham based five piece Editors have just released their fourth album, The Weight of your love. Not a great deal to talk about then except for that their looking for their third consecutive number one album. The band, Tom Smith on lead vocals, guitar, piano, Russell Leetch on bass guitar, synthesizer, and backing vocals, Ed Lay drums, percussion and backing vocals, Lead Guitarist Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams on Keys, synthesizers, guitars, and backing vocals., started life as Pilot and went through several name changes before settling on Editors.
Their first album, The Back Room was released in 1995 and recieved a Mercury Music nomination. From that point onward their career took off, seeing impressive record sales matched with sellout tours and large amounts of critical acclaim. So, has the fourth album of their dark indie rock established them as Britains biggest band? Well, here’s a track by track review of the record.
The Weight. The album opening is heralded by this part majestic/part sinister opening riff, before it settles into what it is. A gloriously-dark pop song, made live and sparkle by Tom Smith’s (impressive throughout) vocal. It also signals that while Editors are continuing to grow as a band, there’s still this slight sense of desolation about their music.
Sugar starts with this buzzsaw like bassline, quasi-industrial in its sound, before the track opens out into this Bunnymen type verse. Again the subject matter is the fragility of everyday people and their relationships ‘it breaks my heart to love you’ bemoans Smith, and the impressive thing is, you believe him.
A ton of love is one of the stand out songs on the album is A ton of love, unsurprisingly chosen as a single. It nods its head to both the the church of McCulloch once again, but it travels along, more upbeat than the previous songs, the chorus particularly uplifting, as the melody and the band trade bars, being passed from pillar to post (punk) if you’ll excuse the frankly inexcusable pun.
What is this thing called love is another sign, much like A ton of love that Editors can mix this gothy post-punk vibe, and chart friendly pop music and come up with something that’s credible. It has synths, string sounds and this open sounding production, and Smith produces his delicious falsetto. It’s pure pop, but there’s this constant dark overtone to everything that the Editors do.
Honesty shows the sadness, the emotion that Editors are able to bring to their music. It ebbs and flows, but has this gritty realism, like Joy Division playing Elbow covers (what a incredible thought that is) Again strings and vocal harmonies (and a splash of brass) add to the feeling that this is a record of smart and stylish pop music.
Nothing strips the sound back to just smith and a string orchestra. The backing provides a carpet for Smith’s lyrics as he slowly, peacefully even treads gingerly through the gamut of his emotions. ‘I got nothing here’ he implore. Quite the opposite actually, if he didn’t have you before, he has now. It’s quite brilliant.
Formaldehyde cranks things back up, using clever wordplay to weave a story of preserving a heart after being (presumably) used abused and, ultimately, broken.
Hyena starts with big guitar riffs, and Smith complaining at the ridiculous nature of the world in general, ‘Laugh with me hyena’ he says. The track itself is built around big guitar riffs that continue throughout. The odd flashes of keyboard add colour to the track.
The music seems to stagnate a little in two hearted spider, holding us back, giving us a breather after all the emotion of the other tracks. It still has some, (every move you make / breaks me) but it seems an understated emotion compared with some of the other tracks.
The phone book draws us back in, as if we needed it. Damn you and you’re alluring acoustic sounds. The lone electric guitar figures, and Smith’s voice seem accentuated by the mood. Again, it walks through territory normally inhabited by Elbow/Kloot seamlessly, effortlessly even.
And so to Bird of prey, and the end of the record. In case we floated away during the phone book, Bird of Prey brings us back down to earth, and leaves us in no doubt of what Editors are masters of. Darkly glorious, ambitious and brilliant pop music.
I liked this record on first listen, and in the subsequent dozen or so times I’ve listened to it, not only did I like it a lot more, but I got more and more out of it. Are The Editors the best band in Britain. I don’t know, but it has to be close.