Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Record label: B-Unique
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Christmas records from British indie rock frontmen are like buses. You wait ages for one to arrive, and then two come along at once. Released just a week after Ash's Tim Wheeler's festive love-in with girlfriend Emmy the Great, Editors lead singer Tom Smith and former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows have joined forces on Funny Looking Angels, an effort to "conjure images of friends coming home from the pub and reflective winter evenings." Despite their similar backgrounds, the two records couldn't be more different.
Even at British indie’s Noughties peak, it’s doubtful anyone was crying out for a Christmas-themed side project from the lead singer of Editors and the drummer from Razorlight. Such is the perverse timeliness at which Smith & Burrows have chosen to unveil their collaboration, The Guardian couldn’t resist titling its news story for their debut album’s announcement ‘Christmas treat or Halloween joke?’. To answer the question, Funny Looking Angels is a yuletide treat and there’s no mistaking it.
Most people, when they are filled with yuletide cheer, think of Tom Smith, singer of Editors and voice of such feelgood pop hits as Blood and Smokers Outside the Hospital Door. This Christmas collaboration with former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows adds sleigh bells and tinsel to classic covers and original compositions that pose such pertinent questions as: "God damn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went?" It's a lopsided affair: while Smith bleats on about being cold and feeling old (on the dreadful When the Thames Froze), the songs on which Burrows takes the lead possess a more pleasant and gentle Elliott Smith lilt. Even in this season of goodwill, however, it's hard to muster much cheer for their butchery of Black's Wonderful Life and Yazoo's Only You.
Every family has its Christmas tradition. Round ours it’s poring over the arrival of cringe-worthy Round Robin letters; last year one of my mum’s school friends wrote of their “12ft Christmas tree in the atrium” and the hardship of “replacing all 41 windows on the house”. The Christmas album can risk being a sonic Round Robin, of interest to few but its creators, dispossessed of all perspective as they’ve mired themselves deep in their icky, cosy world.