Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
The first track from Editors’ fourth record The Weight of Your Love sees frontman Tom Smith bellow in his best Dave Gahan, “I promised myself I wouldn’t sing about death/I know I’m getting boring.” It reveals the pain of a perpetual sulk, a dissatisfaction with constant dissatisfaction. After all, the band is among the best and gloomiest company of noughties-era post-punk revivalists. And, as latter albums by The Cure, this Bauhaus song and The Horrors’ Skying prove, even goths have to smile sometimes.
Review Summary: Let’s all just forget that ‘In This Light and On This Evening’ ever existed. Following the electro abomination that was 2009’s ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, anyone and everyone could be forgiven for approaching Editors’ follow-up ‘The Weight of Your Love’ with trepidation. Having then lost rightfully spurned guitarist and synth player Chris Urbanowicz (replaced here by both Justin Lockey and Elliot Williams) along the four year journey, the anticipatory sensation headed even further south towards dread! Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long for the English quintet’s fourth LP to allay the fear of listeners, with a batch of atmospheric tunes that not only cuts back on the filler and patent electronics, but is almost exactly what its predecessor should have sounded like!Fantastic opener ‘The Weight’ begins with dark, ominous synths before giving way to an incessant beat and almost folky guitar strums.
With the departure of founding guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, Editors clearly felt the need for a reinvention. This new set still possesses the majesty and moodiness of earlier efforts, while finding new inspiration in late ’70s and early ’80s Springsteen, REM and The Cult. (If you don’t believe the latter, listen to “A Ton of Love” and Sonic Temple back-to-back.) There are a few thrilling moments here—notably the cinematic ballad “Nothing”—but the band mostly flounders as it seeks a new direction.
Moving away from the synth-heavy sound of 2009's In This Light and on This Evening, Britain's the Editors return to the more epic, atmospheric guitar-based rock of their debut with 2013's The Weight of Your Love. However, this release is far from repetitive. Certainly, lead singer Tom Smith's baritone croon sounds as authoritative as ever, and the band has lost none of its languid '80s post-punk inclination.
Editors tack away from the dance and Euro influences of their critically mauled In This Light and on This Evening on The Weight of Your Love, which charts a nervy, more modern indie-rock course. The band has always excelled at creative cribbing, but while their influences still dictate everything from song structure to guitar effects, the references feel less belabored and more fully incorporated. The droning menace of “Sugar” effectively chains a Muse-like bassline to eerie arena rock, and the propulsive chorus on “A Ton of Love” works well enough on its own terms to stifle any potential arguments about whether the song sounds more like U2 or Echo and the Bunnymen.
In a review of the last Editors album, In This Light and On This Evening, PopMatters’ Jennifer Cooke wrote, “One of the best things about Editors has always been that they take themselves just that seriously. Let’s hope they remember that next time around. ” Well, this time around for their fourth album, The Weight of Your Love, the Birmingham, England group has certainly taken themselves very, very seriously.
Glacial keyboards dominated Editors' last album, 2009's In This Light and On This Evening, but the follow-up finds them returning to their indie roots, without ever quite recapturing the excitement of their early singles. The anthemic Formaldehyde and Sugar both have the potential to be big radio hits, while Two Hearted Spider is more down-tempo, but no less powerful for it. It's not without its longueurs, however: a mid-album slump lapses into unremarkable string-drenched stadium balladry that could be Coldplay if not for the subversive edginess; meanwhile, so unengaging is The Phone Book that that's exactly what Tom Smith might as well be reciting.
The Weight of Your Love arrives at a stark junction in Editors' career, a junction that they’ve been uncertainly peeking around since 2007. Always a band who seem to inspire a certain level of vexation amongst many, they effectively held a gun to their own heads and publically offered up the trigger with 2009’s In This Light and on This Evening, an album whose spaghetti-electronic leanings inspired much derision from many corners, despite generally being a far better record than snap-reactions portrayed it to be. But four years on, Editors face two significant problems: a need to find and define their own true identity, and a need to prove themselves as a band who can release an album that truly defines who they are and what they are.
For a long time, many British pop bands and artists followed a clockwork-like cycle. They would become sensations in Europe, find some crossover success here in the States and while touring here, become even more immersed and enamored with American music. And as a result, their next album ends up suffused with these influences. There’s a raft of examples: Young Americans, Sandinista!, The Joshua Tree/Rattle & Hum, Give Out But Don’t Give Up and Blur among them.
A baritone is a double-edged sword. Not literally, though it sounds plausible, doesn’t it? On the one hand, it gives a male indie vocalist a certain sonorous, sincere, profound timbre to his voice that weakens the female knee and comforts the lonely soul. On the other hand, it’s pitched far too low for those weak-kneed girls to sing along to at a concert.
During the opening track of this, Editors' fourth album, frontman Tom Smith tells us in his still-assuming baritone that he is concerned that his constant references to death mean he's getting boring. It's a strange statement from the lead singer of a band that has made its mark by picking up the pieces left behind by arch British gloom merchants such as Joy Division and Echo and The Bunnymen and putting them back together with a modern aesthetic. .
For all their moody posturing, Editors always seemed like a band who really wanted to churn out radio-friendly stadium rock for dads who don’t want to play Joy Division in the car in case it scares the kids. Sure enough, in the four years since their last album, 2009’s ‘In This Light And On This Evening’, the British band made time to part ways with guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, who didn’t want to travel the same musical road, and hire producer Jacquire King, the man who won a Grammy for helping to turn Kings Of Leon into a stadium band on ‘Use Somebody’. Editors’ new era starts inoffensively enough, with the baleful but over-inflated ‘The Weight’ and the Depeche Mode strut of ‘Sugar’.
"I'm a lump of meat with a heartbeat/ Electricity restarts me", rumbles Tom Smith on The Weight, the opening track to Editors' fourth album. It's a bold confession for the singer – long suspected of having reanimated Ian Curtis's vocal chords – to make since this latest collection has the ring of a musical Frankenstein's monster. With an emotive string graft here, and an Americana transplant there, not to mention a falsetto injection, the intention seems apparent: the creation of a stadium-devouring golem.
By now, Editors have tried their hand at post-punk, Depeche Mode-style synth ballads, goth-tinged arena-rock, and just about every other variety of 1980s English music in which anything short of total seriousness is seen as a sign of weakness. The irony is that with their supposed conviction you’d think they’d stick to a sound, though in the end that’s neither here nor there: No matter what mode they’re in, they manage to turn four-minute songs into small eternities. Weight shifts from 2009’s comparatively electronic In this Light and on this Evening to leaden guitar rock, often accompanied by orchestra.
After a trifecta of albums that have peaked at a solitary number and two consecutive number ones, it’s safe to say that Editors have, over the years, found a formula that works. Now, remember that scene in Martin Bashir’s Michael Jackson documentary when old MJ stands in the shop picking out what he wants to buy? ‘Two of those, and one of those…’ etc? Well, imagine Editors doing that in a hypothetical room full of influences and musical styles. ‘The Weight Of Your Love’ is a proper everything bar the kitchen sink affair, ranging from the near-suffocating gothic pop of opening duo ‘The Weight’ and ‘Sugar’ – the latter of which sees Smith croon ‘it breaks my heart to love you,’ sounding like a lost LiveJournal post set to music – to incendiary, Echo And The Bunnymen-esque lead single ‘A Ton Of Love’.