The subsequent fall-out of Editors’ third album, ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, was a messy one. Despite its surprise number one position, it was the lowest selling of their albums to date, the aftermath of which shed lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz and probably a ton of fans who didn’t fancy a Fisher Price My first ‘Kid A’ album, this led to a four year gap while collective heads were scratched, they maybe should have continued with the scratching.
At least with the electronic sounds used last time masked their perennial OK-ishness. ‘The Weight of Our Love’ strips back these interesting parts and goes for the stadium jugular, in part due to turning to Kings of Leon producer Jacquire King who produced part of the album.
At least Kings of Leon can pass off a big ballsy rock ballad. When Editors try, it’s as convincing as when lead singer Tom Smith tried to tell people that he’d never heard of Joy Division.
One massive positive however is that without Urbanowicz on guitar, their collective sound has been opened up, no longer stuck in 2005; the jagged angular sound gives way to a much more expansive sound.
Lead single ‘A Ton of Love’ promises much, a big 80s influenced pop tune, its new wave rock sound managing to incorporate the balls of Inxs with the Echo & The Bunnymen at their most angsty, while title track has a bluesy Martin Gore influenced guitar riff with a tantalising unease and a tagline of “I promised myself, I wouldn’t talk about death, I know I’m getting boring”, unfortunately, hunting for material as strong as this bears scant fruit.
This new back to basics approach comes with a new American alt twist but doesn’t sound genuine, it’s the musical equivalent of when Joss Stone moved to the states and started talking like some big momma from the South. ‘Honesty’ even contains a ‘Use Somebody’ style “way oh oh oh” style refrain, something which made that song so interminably bad, but instead of big arena filling sounds, this sounds like a limp Tears for Fears B-side.
‘The Phone Book’ is better despite a hammy attempt at a Bruce Springsteen-lite acoustic ballad containing some of Smith’s worst metaphorical musings. Bear in mind that this pen gave birth to gems such as “All sparks fade out in the end” or “It kicks like a sleep switch,” here, the nadir is reached with “I’m an apple, you’re the tree, I won’t fall, when you’re shook.” It’s like the bad poetry of a misunderstood 16 year old boy, the world would be a better place if he just took a sly picture of whatever girl he’s creeping out with his I-phone and self-satisfied himself until he got over being ignored by her instead of wrenching out crappy existential angst.
The aspirations of Coldplay status are here for all to see but without the musical dexterity. They drop a vaguely middle eastern break on ‘Sugar’ and the occasional electronic beat but don’t have the musical scope to go all out raga or use different sounds with any real conviction.
When all else fails, they chuck in a cynical big “ahh ahhh ahhh’” purpose built for festival sing-along’s on the droney ‘Honesty’. Even worse, What Is This Thing Called Love’ apparently written as a bet to write an X-Factor winners song, is something so contrived and saccharine sweet, the schmaltzy strings and strained falsetto are so contrite that you wish that whichever loser he wrote this gubbins had gone ahead and stormed the top 37 with it.
A massive middle of the album lull is completed with the orchestral yawn of ‘Nothing’, just one listen will have you wishing for the existence of a cranial delete button and heading the queue to get one installed so you never have to recall hearing it. After such a dip, it would take something special to recover, Editors don’t have it. ‘Two Hearted Spider’ is suspense filled, gradually building up to a dramatic U2 tinged outro which unfolds well enough and ‘Formaldehyde’ nods to their early sound and really sticks out from the general musical ennui on offer.
This album continues with the trend of the three that preceded it, they have the occasional storming track but way too many that are just borderline average. For Editors to fulfil their potential they need to gain their own identity. Something which four albums in and eight years down the line they really must have discovered, maybe next time, then. 5.6/10