Review Summary: Editors jump on the electro bandwagon & crash to earth with a thud.
When Franz Ferdinand released their 3rd album earlier in 2009, they certainly were not the first band to combine post-punk/indie-rock with electronica. However, by riskily incorporating synths into their already established and successful sound, the Scots have arguably paved the way for others to follow suit. Make no mistake about it, the bandwagon will soon fill up… And one of the first groups to jump on board is English quartet, Editors. Unfortunately, where Franz integrated the new musical components very well, Editors let it run wild and ultimately eliminate many of their strengths.
The “all or nothing” approach which Editors have taken can literally be heard just seconds into their 3rd LP ‘In This Light and On This Evening’. Remember when ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’ opener ‘Ulysses’ began with a slinky bass line before dramatically launching into its electronica? Well, the opening title track here shows no such subtlety, immediately giving away its intentions. While it is effectively moody and builds up decently enough, it then inefficiently spreads its entire 37 words of lyrics over a duration that exceeds four minutes. To make matters worse, it is followed up by a six minute cut that is equally inefficient. Stock-standard beats… Average lyrics… The occasional impressive synth flourishes… It practically sums up the entire album!
With electronica taking over, the previously impressive rhythm section and soaring guitars have all but disappeared. Even the expansive anthemic sounds of the polarizing ‘An End Has A Start’ are missing. That leaves Tom Smith’s striking baritone voice as the only ingredient which even characterizes this as an Editors release. There is only so much one man can do, and even then he is handcuffed by mediocre lyrics that will fail to resonate with the majority of listeners. Furthermore, the constant references to God get annoying, while the food fetish that surfaces towards the end of the album is flat out weird. Penultimate track ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’ is the most experimental track here… It is also the most ridiculous.
‘In This Light and On This Evening’ is not a total write-off, with lead single ‘Papillon’ easily being the most satisfying cut on the LP. Synths propel this body-moving piece in a manner that is sorely lacking elsewhere, while Smith is on top of his game here knowing exactly when to alter the tone of his voice for the tracks betterment. When he recites the key words of “it kicks like a sleep twitch”, there is not only a palpable anticipation leading up to it, but he makes it somehow sound vitally important. Elsewhere however, only the solid and straight-forward ‘You Don’t Know Love’ significantly impresses.
The term “love it or hate it” is over-used in musical parlance, but one feels that it is apt in this case. Fans of the band are either going to be blindly loyal, or extremely disappointed with this release. Meanwhile, those who felt that Editors were overly generic will either be interested in their new direction, or simply feel they are now generic in a different genre. No matter which way you look at it, it is difficult to see ‘In This Light and On This Evening’ reaching a substantial audience. Hopefully, that result will see Editors re-think their future sound… On the back of this album, they need to.
Recommended Tracks: Papillon & You Don’t Know Love.