In This Light And On This Evening
, October 14th, 2009 12:56
And Here are the Young Men (Vauxhall Conference Division)
After the wiry, noir-pop shapes thrown of yore, the Editors' third album offers a change of tack. The title track is no brash indie-disco stomper; and its sombre, minimal construction is indicative of much that lies ahead. It's a far more synthetic and less muscular, melodic or climatic album than you might expect, and you can see where the pre-release references to the Terminator soundtrack come from (doyen of widescreen rock-electronica convergence, Flood, take a bow).
I unashamedly liked 'Munich', which had a bit of unvarnished poignancy, and much of The Back Room. There, I thought, Tom Smith's grandiloquent vocals worked. They don't here. 'Bricks and Mortar' has the same kind of flourish as 'Munich', but the Giorgio Moroder meets Technique-era New Order setting just doesn't propel the song in the same way. Smith's vocals are by turns hushed and understated and overbearing. He still affects the Ian Curtis whisper at various points, but on 'Papillon' he sounds like Tony Hadley wrestling a Eurythmics tune — and that's not a good place to be.
"It kicks like a sleep twitch", he intones, repeatedly, but the conjured atmosphere is soporific rather than feral or nocturnal, as would seem to have been the intent. The concept of love spurned, frustrated or lost runs through the album alongside images of a London cast in shadows — but the songs just don't have the strength, style or sass to maintain the sweep of doomy romanticism. Stripped of the guitar ballast of old, the vocals are simply too prominent. And that leaves the lyrics unadorned, and frankly, it's a coconut shy. For example, on 'You Don't Know Love' we get "You ran with the dead today / Through the cemeteries where ghosts still play / the more you ran, love got further away". Frankly, the guys from White Lies would be embarrassed by that, and that's saying something.
Only on the Sparks-like 'Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool' does the band manage a chorus-verse interchange that is both original and sticks, and it's ruined by a frankly ill-fitting expletive. By the time we endure the pomposity of closer 'Walk The Fleet Road', with its muffled, funereal drums and portentous vocal — very 'In A Lonely Place' — it's become wholly tiresome.