Review Summary: A striking baritone voice… An impressive rhythm section… Sweeping & soaring guitars… It all results in a consistent, excellent & impressive debut.
Every once in a while, a voice comes along that simply demands attention. Tom Smith, lead vocalist of English quartet Editors, has such a voice. His baritone is in itself an instrument, able to sound sophisticated one moment and anguished the next… It is the kind of striking voice which companies would love to have sell their products, such is its power and magnetism.
In a fashion, Smith does indeed have to do some selling on the band’s debut album ‘The Back Room’. This is because the lyrics contained within it are not exactly the most complex you will ever hear. They also occasionally lack depth, resulting in over-repetition, as can be seen on a track such as lead single ‘Bullets’. Yet, it is a credit to the band as a whole that they can still make such a song work.
What is impressive about Smith’s lyrics however is their ability to have key components resonate with listeners one way or another. Take this collection of 4 lines out of the choruses of various tracks as proof of this:
- “If fortune favors the brave, I am as poor as they come”.
- “People are fragile things, you should know by now, be careful what you put them through”.
- “Blood runs through your veins, that’s where our similarity ends”.
- “Look at us through the lens of a camera, does it remove all of our pain”.
Thankfully, Editors are not all about their lead singer though and they prove this on multiple occasions. Trying their darnedest to attract some attention away from Smith are 3 sure to be under-rated musicians, all of whom undoubtedly add their piece of the puzzle to complete a thoroughly satisfying sonic picture. Russell Leetch’s impressive bass-playing works efficiently with Ed Lay’s frequently insistent and propulsive drumming to provide a more than solid rhythm section. Meanwhile, Chis Urbanowicz’s sweeping and soaring guitar playing brings to mind a combination of U2 and Interpol.
On initial listening, ‘The Back Room’ sounds dark, gloomy and depressing. Yet, upon closer inspection it will be discovered that Editors have an uncanny knack of turning such themes into uplifting cuts. Album highlight and 2nd single ‘Munich’ has a strangely contagious chorus to achieve this result, while ‘Fingers in the Factories’ does so with a forceful striking of words, drums and guitar on the same methodical beat. Probably the most accessible song here is 4th single ‘All Sparks’, which almost channels latter-day Coldplay with its super hooky guitar components. Then, beginning with the haunting sounds of ballad ‘Camera’, Editors begin to subtly use synths on the latter half of the album to add some appreciated variety.
Containing an even and consistent grouping of 11 songs, this debut full-length release almost satisfies for its entire duration, with only the final 2 tracks (the 6 minute ‘Open Your Arms’ and the synth-heavy ‘Distance’) struggling to keep up to standard. Ultimately though, this is an impressive and excellent debut from a band of immense potential. If they can now take their many influences apparent on ‘The Back Room’ and shape them more into their own sound, then the world could very well be in the Editor’s hands.
Recommended Tracks: Munich, All Sparks, Fingers in the Factories & Blood.