Editors are four maudlin chaps from Birmingham who wear garb that even Nosferatu’s stylist would reject as a tad sombre. This, coupled with the fact that the eerily-titled ‘The Back Room’ deals mostly with the subjects of death, disease and not very much else makes Editors the leaders of – gulp – The Nu-Goth. Right?
Well, kind of, perhaps. Certainly, in part, this is a collection of songs that pong of drinking cider’n’black in graveyards. The keyboards that sweep across ‘Camera’ recall the twisted murder ballads of ’80s gloomsters Bauhaus, while ‘Distance’ sounds like a bleary-eyed Interpol burying the family dog – and this is before we’ve even touched on the group’sfannish adoration of Joy Division.
But while it’s almost too easy to imagine singer Tom Smith lurching around in front of his bedroom mirror, mouthing along to Joy Division songs in a brief respite from inking in the words ‘Ian’ and ‘Curtis’ on his Stars In Their Eyes application form, it’s harder to picture their Mancunian heroes indulging in the kind of optimism which sporadically breaks through ‘The Back Room’’s gothic crust.
Consider the shuffling opus ‘Open Your Arms’. “Open your arms and welcome”, chants Smith halfway in, veering from skeletal lurch to triumphant celebration in under six minutes. While it hardly daubs the sky in polyphonic Technicolor,it shows that Editors have more colours at their disposal than just Bible black. It’s an extraordinary piece of music, and it’s at moments like this where Editors sounds about as goth as the Kaisersaur.
Then there’s debut single ‘Bullets’. Both their best song and worth every penny it currently claims on eBay, it’s achingly, yearningly hopeful. ‘Bullets’ is the kind of song a fresh-faced U2 might have written in their Dublin practice room around the start of the ’80s, or that The Cure’s Robert Smith could pen by the pool on holiday. Its underlying perversity slightly obscures the bright heat of the sun, but it hops, skips, and jumps with the vigour of a baby puppy. ‘Fingers In The Factories’ sounds like new wave oddballs Devo covering the Motown back catalogue, ‘Blood’ jerks and jolts like The Futureheads eating too much sugar and ‘Sparks’ is Kraftwerk jamming with Booker T And The MGs on the surface of David Byrne’s brain. Yes, that joyous: ‘The Back Room’ is a record that hops from hopelessness to hopefulness, often within the space of a chorus. Because Editors are people who realise that this world is a pretty shitty place, and that life is cruel. But you know what? It’s all we’ve got, so let’s have a pop at crafting some beauty, some joy and some salvation. Editors embrace the light and the dark and, in doing so, have created a debut that will endure.