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By Andy Argyrakis
Editors blend brooding bands from the 80s with alternative originality
"One on One"
May 28, 2008
When Editors debuted in 2005 with The Back Room (Kitchenware), the Birmingham-based band was immediately grouped into the same pool as Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Interpol, Bloc Party and She Wants Revenge. In other words, the brooding foursome was said to be direct descendants of classic 80s acts like Joy Division, New Order or Echo and the Bunnymen, but capable of bringing those dance-tipped sounds up to date. With two years of touring behind its belt, a return trip to the studio and its indie label partnering with Epic, members are clearly mapping out an original course on An End Has a Start that doesn't deny where they came from, but serves to distance themselves from the highly fashionable (albeit, sometimes fluffy) resurgence of the dance/rock scene.
"We'd be stupid if we didn't pay attention to what people did before us and we've always been fans of melodic, exciting songs with unique soundscapes," admits drummer Ed Lay. "All of those 80s bands [that we get compared to] have those elements in abundance, so we'd be bad at our jobs if we didn't listen to them or take inspiration from them. But you've still got to incorporate what you do into your songwriting and we're all tremendously proud of this record. I'd say the main difference is the whole body of work is a lot more intuitive and we spent a lot of time ordering the songs. I enjoy the record much more as a piece than just dipping in, but at the core, it's still Editors."
Fans of the first record will notice an even darker approach on the surface of this new collection, including even more menacing vocals from front man Tom Smith, jarring guitar lines and ominous percussion. Despite the less than celebratory tones, the disc still packs plenty of passion, backed by several moments of the rhythm section ramping up with insistence. No matter how the foursome's reflections come out on the creative canvas, the disc's underlying message- which somewhat surprisingly addresses death- is impossible to ignore. Tunes like "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" and "An End Has a Start" clearly addresses mortality, while introspective tracks like "When Anger Shows," "Push Your Head Towards the Air" and "The Weight of the World" also overflow with emotion.
"We all got to the stage in our lives where death and disease have become problems in our lives or those close to us," admits Lay. "As our families and friendship groups have expanded, we've grown intensely closer to some people, which you never really get to experience when your f---ing around as a kid. But you come to a sudden realization that what you do and the attitudes you have make a massive impact on your life. How you react to bad situations, even if you haven't come in contact with them before, sort of defines who you are."
Though Lay's thoughts might not immediately inspire a trip to the club for a night of dance-derived excess, the spirit throughout An End Has a Start is far from morose. While it may be a more mature endeavor in all regards, there's a hopeful resolution nestled in the desire for each individual to make the most of grim circumstances. "Bad things are going to happen, but you have to react to them and then get over them," the beat keeper commands. "A lot of music recently has kind of jovial storytelling, but this is really deeper and not many bands may want to bring it to light. But in those observations, hopefully it will get everyone to focus on the best parts of life in the end."
Clearly this divergent lyrical direction, coupled with the left of center sonic strides, provides a just defense against scrutiny-filled fans quick to scream sell out over the Epic association. If anything, Editors seem to turn even more against the mainstream throughout the album, a decision that further cements its independent ideals (in spite of international distribution via a major label).
"Kitchenware has been so inspiring because they have total belief and confidence in what we're doing, but the major label gives us the financial clout," Lay reiterates. "They've always got our back and act with a buffer anytime Epic tries to turn on the machine. They know how to push big records like Beyonce, but we're an indie band that's not going to write the songs they want and we're not going to perform in supermarkets to make money. Sometimes they need the telling, but they respect that and we have a very good relationship with both. My hats actually go off to them because there was no pressure of being forced in the corner and that's lead to a record that we all really enjoy."
This article originally appeared in Hear/Say Magazine.