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Editors – In This Light and On This Evening

on October 23, 2009, 3:15am
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Editing your influences on record appeared to be just as relieving as it was challenging to Editors, the British post-punk revivalists who seemed fated to forever wear the yoke of being the Interpol of the other side of the Atlantic. On, or perhaps in, The Back Room they proved just how a debut can mobilize a fanbase by riding on the highest wave of indie rock honing the gloomy alternative rock it was born from. But, said the Editors, “An End Has A Start” and then dumped the bombastic and (intending-to-be) life-affirming follow-up on us as if to prove to the skeptics that they were capable of just as great and grand things as their ancestors.

Lead singer Tom Smith insisted that they couldn’t possibly have gone through another session leading up to epic guitar mangling and such evocative lines such as “You burn like a bouncing cigarette on the road” and therefore In This Light And On This Evening, the Birmingham quartet’s third album, isn’t a “traditional guitar” album. Anyone who heard the 80’s-pounding lead single “Papillon” could guess that Depeche Mode rather than Joy Division had the greater stylistic impact on Editors’ sound this time around. As pop-oriented as any of the band’s previous singles, “Papillon”, being one of the two outrightly catchy songs together with the awkwardly titled and poppy take on no wave experimentalism “Eat Raw Meet = Blood Drool”, shines like a sanctuary in the tracklist for the hardcore hit-seeking fans of the band.

This is nothing short of a statement of creative independence albeit some may not appreciate Editors being another band that succumbs for their own curiosity and experimental urge. The prog nerve on In This Light makes it thrilling but at the same time a bit sluggish. Electronic to its nature, the album tweaks, works up, re-digests and why yes edits Editors’ established sound into a purely urban experience. Motorik rhythms, such as the one urgently pushing the epic-hunting but brittle-sounding “Bricks And Mortar”, and layers of moody synths, such as the ones making the opening title track an exciting momentum together with the energetic drone-rock bash-out at the end, form vague structures of industrial. Following down the line, dodgy krautrock arrangements appear amidst the darkness of the city. It’s actually irritatingly obvious that the production of Flood, co-worker of U2, Depeche Mode and Nince Inch Nails, has washed over the Editors.

Perhaps it’s logical that Editors, a band whose downhearted songs of death anxiety and general gloom were best listened to in the setting of a nightly walk through the cold city, are finally embracing Bloc Party’s concept of A Weekend In The City. The two albums compared here are, however, far too different from one another sonically to be connected on a deeper level. Yet it’s interesting that once Editors finally made the step to write an album containing lyrics as “I swear to God, in this light and on this evening,
London’s become, the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.” they stray off the commercially accessible road they’ve been paving for themselves through two albums and set out on a soul search. So, after all, Flood was perhaps the man able to help them with that tedious task.

The band tread upon unknown territory that even to me requires a certain surrounding to appreciate at its fullest. I’m especially referring to the middle of the album sports three unnecessarily arty-experimental tracks (“You Don’t Know Love”, “The Big Exit” and “The Boxer”) that come out as a little too slow, brooding and introvert. The ambitious concept is there, but it hasn’t been fully realized for that sonic world to reach out to me and unfold in my mind. Although highly unoriginal, Editors’ last two albums could at least offer me that – plus a number of catchy, danceable indie rock-offs too. Yet, in this light and on this evening the otherwise so stale and mechanically skillful Editors find their soul amidst kraut junk and neo-romantic industrial scrap in the wastelands bordering the finer neighborhoods of Joy Division, Interpol, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. This album is an uneven yet charmingly symmetrical, ugly yet beautifully dignified piece of leftover art that symbolizes the start of something original, own and strangely confounding.

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