Editors – In The Light And On This Evening (Kitchenware) 16/10/2009

November 6, 2009 by  

editors-in-this-light

It’s been two years since we last heard from Editors, premier purveyors of angst-fuelled rock. In those years, Russell Leech and Chris Urbanowicz have decamped to New York, while Tom Smith has become a father. So, what impact has this upheaval had on the familiar Editors sound?

Well there are a few changes. The New York influence can be heard most clearly in the (over)use of retro-sounding synthesizers, as opposed to the more organic guitar-based theatrics that have summed up previous efforts. Has becoming a father changed Smith’s delivery, or his dark and forlorn lyrics? Not a bit. “In The Light And On This Evening” is if anything, even more overblown and dramatic than what has gone before.

The obvious Joy Division comparison doesn’t seem to be the uncomfortable tag that it once was. Choral background vocals and simple but incessant percussion are more reminiscent than ever of Ian Curtis at his best, as well as giving a gentle nod to those other heroes of melancholy, Depeche Mode and New Order.

Album opener “In The Light And On This Evening” is a cracking way to start an album, with ominous tones giving a taste of what is to come, before a piano melody precedes Smith’s familiar vocals. It’s dark but not subdued, and sums up the album brilliantly.

Single “Papillion” is one of the disappointments of the album. It is unashamedly grandiose, but has little behind it to justify the pomp. And the shamelessly pillaged intro is a reminder of just how much the album owes to its 80’s predecessors. It also highlight’s one area that has been a consistent weakness in Editors’ work; the lyrics. It sounds like Smith heard the world “Papillion” and set out to do whatever it takes to fit it into a song. It just doesn’t comfortably work.

“The Boxer” opens with a distorted melody akin to something you would hear in an old music box. It is an interesting start, but quickly lapses back into familiar territory. “An unwanted sun pulls rank in the sky, the boxer isn’t finished; he’s not ready to die.” There is a sense of keeping to an established pattern, and Smith’s habit of awkwardly roping together poetic but ultimately meaningless lines does start to grate after a while.

One note of real inspiration is the awfully named “Eat Raw Meat=Blood Drool”. Here we are treated to a really interesting pattern of building piano breaks, well judged counterpointing synth harmonies and Tom Smith singing in more than three notes.

Album curtain call “Walk The Fleet Road” is another highpoint. It is very down-beat, but displaying a bit more restraint than seen to this point. It’s elegant and touching, and maybe the one point on the album that the vocals convey any real emotion.

As an album, “In The Light And On This Morning” is a great effort, comparable to their debut “The Back Room”. If a criticism has to be made, it is that there is no sense of risk. Apart from one or two miss-able tracks, everything here is perfectly acceptable, but it lacks the knockout single or compelling new direction that is needed to make a good album great.

[rating:3.5]

Liam Clune

www.myspace.com/editorsmusic


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