Editors - In This Light and on This Evening
Record Label: Fader Label
Release Date: October 13, 2009
"If fortune favors the brave, I'm as poor as they come," Editors vocalist Tom Smith sang on "Lights," from their debut LP The Back Room, and judging from the material on that album and its follow-up An End Has a Start, he wasn't kidding. Those records are pretty standard imitations of '80s post-punk, and with the New Wave revivalist movement, led by the likes of The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and Interpol, already in full swing by the time their debut was released, they almost seemed to be imitating the imitators. Don't get me wrong-- I shamelessly enjoy this style and think this band do it as well as anyone, but the point is that their records are anything but brave. Until now, that is, as Smith has made a liar of himself with the release of the third Editors album, In This Light and on This Evening.
Smith is still employing his grave, foreboding vocal that's drawn comparisons to Ian Curtis and Paul Banks, but musically, the band has made a Joy Division-to-New Order type transition. The overall sound is still characteristically dark, but the electronic element is much more prominent. Submit for proof the opening title track, whose minimalist synths and quiet, sinister vocals at the outset recall The Knife's Silent Shout. Past the halfway point, these elements fade to the background, making way for abrasive guitars and pounding drums. Previous Editors albums can definitely be described as grim, but never have they sounded this threatening.
"Bricks and Mortar" picks up the pace a bit and delivers a brighter-sounding arrangement, but a few chinks in the armor appear, as the synth parts, which primarily drive the song, are repetitive and uninteresting, and the vocal melody is flat and limp, all of which are severe handicaps for a song that exceeds six minutes. In its wake comes "Papillon," the go-to track on the album for instant gratification, with its eerie Depeche Mode hook rising up above the melodrama.
"You Don't Know Love" is another simple song that's light lyrically (the line "you don't know love like you used to, you don't feel love like you did before" is repeated ad nauseum) and offers very little musically besides a basic synth line. There's barely enough here to support a song for two minutes, but it staggers to near the five minute mark, seemingly to fill up disc space and put even the most patient listeners to the test. By the time Smith belts out, "I think it's time we leave," on "The Big Exit," during which he unfurls an unwieldy falsetto, listeners are likely to wish he would oblige. Unfortunately, he doesn't, instead delivering the interminably languid "The Boxer."
Despite having odd phrasing like "you are what you eat, you'll become digested," "Like Treasure" is one of the more effective songs on the record. The chorus still doesn't hold up to some of their earlier material, but it's as anthemic as anything here. Also offering a moment of relative redemption is "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool"-- horrific title notwithstanding-- with its thumping drumbeat, very welcome buzzing guitars and an infectious hook.
Closing song "Walk the Fleet Road" delivers a line that pretty much sums up In This Light and on This Evening: "Through the dark we tiptoe." The album finds Editors more intrepid than in the past, but they seem overly cautious when not treading on familiar ground. On the title track, they go all-out trying to evoke a creepy ambience, and give their established hook-laden style a complete Depeche Mode makeover on "Papillon," and both are largely successful. Unfortunately, the rest of the album feels wishy-washy, with most of the songs wandering and never really going anywhere. It's definitely disappointing that the album that finds the band trying to do something different turns out to be by far their most boring.
besides, i agree with him, as far as i loved An End.. this really disappointed me, why do all the indie bands have to go electronic after few albums? "the rest of the album feels wishy-washy, with most of the songs wandering and never really going anywhere" is completely true... definitely no more than 60 percent...
Is this album indicative of their best work? No, but it's not nearly as bad as it's being made out to be either. "Papillon" might be one of their better singles and while the album as a whole isn't as strong as The Back Room or even An End Has A Start, the criticism of it borders on unfair.