Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Editors -- An End Has a Start

For many, UK's Editors debut The Back Room was viewed as quite possibly the best indie rock album the past 4 years had seen. Less than 2 years later they deliver their follow-up with similar results, via a mixture of equally dark and moody songs. Editors have beCarlos D, in desperate need of a mustache Editoren compared nauseatingly to a plethora of 70's/80's post-punk bands (Joy Division/Echo & The Bunnymen/Chameleons) as well as their contemporaries (mainly Interpol), so no need to rehash those comparisons and debates here. The influences are obvious, but Editors have their own take and style, making music that jumps out as fresh and vibrant while maintaining an air of familiarity. The Back Room features so many outstanding tracks, it's tough to fathom Tom Smith & Co topping that. The only knock against their debut is that many of the songs feature the same driving fifth gear tempo, so it can begin to sound same'ish on the surface.

Wisely, Editors don't change too much of what worked so well last time, nor do they stand flat-footed in reNothing says class like a limo that looks like a school bus.verence of the kudos received for an exceptional debut. Half the album ("Bones", "Racing Rats", "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors", "An End Has A Start" and "Empty the Nest") could be mistaken as A-Team material from The Back Room. The other half is where the band’s range is expanded, throwing in some new wrinkles courtesy of a few slower tempo building songs, as well as adding piano and keyboards to the arsenal. "Put Your Towards the Air" opens with the best humming seen since Crash Test Dummies' "MMM MMM MMM MMM" (similar humming is also found on "The Weight of the World" & “When Anger Shows”).

While not a concept album, it’s obvious that death, and its stamp on loved ones left behind is a central theme of Tom Smith's tunes. The title track finds Smith bellowing “More and more people I know are getting ill (Put something good on the ashes now be sMore like half a bones.till)…But in the end, still my broken limbs, will find time to mend”. On "The Weight of the World" Smith sings, "You fuse my broken bones back together again, lift the weight of the world". The song is very appropriately buoyed by Urbanowicz's furious high pitched piercing guitar, which sounds like more like a micro-surgical saw than a musical instrument. The very next track “Bones”, features a chorus of “Bones, Starved of flesh, Surround an aching heart, Full of love”. Throughout the album, Urbanowicz's guitar work is lightening fast and sharp like an instrument of death. As The Fray have the Grey’s Anatomy market covered, it’s not difficult to imagine any number of songs being fittingly used in a future episode of Nip/Tuck or an operating room scene in a movie. The choice tracks of the bunch may be the three (“When Anger Shows”, “Spiders”, “Put Your HeaAll in on the DMHd Towards the Air”) in which the band shows its proficient ability to start slowly and build up in waves, rather than kicking off with an immediate blazing intro. All three also prominently feature Smith’s piano chops, hinting at the variety of sounds that the band’s capable of on later releases when they are unshackled to take more risks.

The only major flaw with the album is its closer, “Well Worn Hand”, which displays an anguished Tom Smith singing shakily sans his normally confident baritone on the slow piano ballad. It's questionable as to why this song was picked to be on the album, much less as the finale, other than it holds a heaJacknife's what me mum named me.vy load of personal sentiment for Smith (a song about a friend’s suicide). The b-sides off The Back Room revealed material that was arguably as strong as anything on the LP. “You Are Fading” is arguably Editors’ best song, and didn't even make the first cut for the original debut (released on rare bonus disc for The Back Room).

The overall sound on An End Has a Start is anthemic arena rock (obvs, Jacknife Lee produced it), reminiscent of the glory years of U2 & REM. Whereas Coldplay/Idlewild/ Snow Patrol/The Killers have all recently gone for the big epic arena rock sound, Editors are actually able to pull it off without pretension, without sounding too slick, and without being too brooding and morbidly depressing. Where others fail, Editors seem to get that drama just for the sake of drama is anything but. While the songs appear to be rooted by an obsession with death, Smith's conviction and earnestness somehow manages to put the listener's mind at ease with a feeling of hope and survival amidst omnipresent fear and paranoia. Much like its predecessor, this album grows on you and the layers of sounds are pealed away with each listen. If The Back Room didn’t win you over, it’s unlikely that this album will change your mind.

Rating: 5/5


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Blogger Kyle said...

Great review Damizz. Spot on.

10:05 AM  

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