There are lots of bands doing 80s Brit-rock these days: The Killers, Interpol, The Bravery. But here's a novel idea, how `bout Brit-rock from a band that is actually (gasp) British! Hailing from Birmingham these four former Stafford University students have had the U.K press buzzing about their 2005 debut disc The Back Room. Well after months of waiting, The Editors have finally hit the U.S. market.
I will tell you right now I love this disc. I have had it in my play rotation for four solid months (I got it as an import). Yes, they sound a bit like Interpol from the standpoint that both singers have that deadpan sort of Joy Division style going. But I think that The Editors' Tom Smith brings more of a flow and less of a drone to the music. His baritone voice fits in nicely with the overall minor key mood of the songs and never tries to go where it shouldn't.
A more apt comparison of the Editors' sound is to that of 80s alternative bands The Chameleons U.K., Cactus World News and Echo & The Bunnymen. Soaring and edgy guitars layered with just enough minor chords and shadows of goth to be cool but not too depressing. The guitar firepower is not in flashy solos but in mood building chords that instantly catch you and keep you focused and hooked.
"Lights" comes hard and fast right out of the gate while Smith croons, "I've got a million things to say." The bass and drums lay down a blistering pace and the guitars reverb up a storm of melody. Hot on the heels is "Munich," with more of the same guitar power and passion. By this point in the disc you will have already decided whether you love them or not.
The beat keeps driving but the lyrics turn a bit darker on "Blood." As Smith's warbling voice sings, "Blood runs through your veins / That's where our similarity ends." Lies, promises and trust are all themes here. "There's nothing believable in being honest / So cover your lies up / With another promise."
Another high point is "All Sparks" with it's repeating chorus hook of "all sparks will burn out in the end" sung over dark guitar and a slightly slower heavy bass. It reminds me a bit of Bauhaus. Smith belts this song out like an anthem. To top it off he also adds, "You burn like a bouncing cigarette...all sparks will burn out."
The first big noise from The Editors was with the U.K. single "Bullets," which sold out in a single day. Once again we get a soaring guitar hook with the fast-paced lyrics, "You don't need this disease / You don't, you don't need this disease." Here in print it may not seem that cool but believe me, when you hear it you will be instantly sold.
The lads also do well when they slow the pace down a bit. "Fall" and "Camera" both show off the band's ability to deliver intensity and passion without all the guitar bombast. But make no mistake, both songs continue to build throughout and churn up a good guitar noise before they finish. It's a very 80s throwback touch indeed.
But the best of the slow jams is without a doubt, "Open Your Arms." A little pop of drums starts it off very nicely and the guitars are very understated. After a couple of catchy verse - chorus exchanges the guitar begins to echo and the bass starts pounding as the drums get louder and louder. Smith howls above it all, "Open your arms and welcome / Open your arms and welcome...people to your town." The disc really should end right here.
"Distance," is the last track and while it is not a bad song it just doesn't have the power of "Open Your Arms." It is a minor quibble and certainly does not diminish the disc's overall appeal.
The Editors are not perfect on their debut. There is still plenty of room to grow and develop, especially in the lyrics department. Most every song here has a great line or two. So we know they have it within them to come up with really good lyrical hooks. Their next challenge will be to string a bunch of those lines together in a single song. They really didn't do that this time out but I am more than willing to give them a chance to work on it.
The Editors deliver the big, bold minor chord anthem better than any of their contemporaries. As I listen to this disc I can envision these songs sung like stadium rock anthems ala U2. I also know that right now they are a long way from that status and only time will tell where they go. Here's hoping that the Editors find the kind of success that they deserve. Like I said before, I love this disc.