Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Album review: Editors - 'In This Light And On This Evening'
Neither Tesco angst fish nor dark art fowl
Searching for authenticity in gloom is an irresponsible occupation: after all, the expectation that artists should live up to their angst was surely a factor in both Richey Manic’s ‘4 Real’ carve-up and Kurt Cobain’s demise. So, are Editors, on their third album, doing more than wallowing in mawkish bombast and “living out our secondhand clichés”, as they put it on ‘Like Treasure’? Well, yes and no. While a band that operates in their arena-sized realm is never going to take a Throbbing Gristle-style experimental leap, there’s no doubt that, in their own way, they’ve pushed the boat out far beyond the shallow emoting of ‘An End Has A Start’. That much is clear from the opening title track, heavily if deliberately dystopian through Smith’s bottom-end vocals and the electronic flicker of a panicked Morse transmission.
Despite its guffawsome Radiohead-aping title, ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’ also surprises with android duck calls, Kraftwerk synths and the kind of mysterious chorus Bono long ago forgot how to write. Single ‘Papillon’ is adequate Gahan-near-death-period Depeche Mode. Editors get it entirely right on ‘The Big Exit’, which features awkwardly slowed no-wave guitar and martial drums that dream of being produced by Martin Hannett, a noise like waking up to a circular saw bearing down on your sleepy eyes. The bass keeps up a decent rumble underneath, while a refrain of “They took what once was ours” passes final judgment. ‘Bricks And Mortar’ builds a house not far from where The Horrors sited ‘Primary Colours’ in the Neu! World, even if it ultimately typifies Editors’ malaise. Instead of just making do with a motorik intent and the occasional slicing synth to sharpen the edge of its stadium-bothering chorus, they throw in multi-tracked choral vocals, warm keyboards and a bothersome amount of guitar tracks. The effect is akin to being in three different indie clubs at once.
Those who’ve perfected epic gloom – The Cure, Joy Division, ‘Holy Bible’-era Manics – have ground the atmosphere out of minimalism, stripping everything back and hitting you hard between the eyes. ‘In This Light…’ suggests that Editors could yet push their trolley out of Ikea existentialism into a ditch of twisted metal, weeds and wires with the potential of finding something beneath. Indeed, they’ve possibly succeeded in alienating the casual fan with the brief moments of nastiness that are here. And with those people diverted back to Keane’s mooning lullabies, perhaps next time Editors might look to their dark forebears, discover the power of concision and hone what they have. For, as any good editor knows, less is more.
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