Editors- The Back Room

By Stephen Paulin

Published on Sunday, March 19, 2006

Editors are a gloomy four piece band from Birmingham. Without even releasing their debut album , the eerily-titled The Back Room in America, they have already drawn the obvious comparisons to Interpol and Joy Division. Frontman Tom Smith is the reason behind these comparisons with a voice reminiscent of Paul Banks and Ian Curtis.

From the opening song Lights you can see that the reasons for these comparisons are clear, due to the common style of the bands and Tom Smith’s Paul Banks impersonation. The album has a great opening with a simple guitar riff by Chris Urbanowicz that builds up with drums into a powerful catchy chorus. Then comes the first of three already released singles Munich, which manages with excellent guitar work, to be both a very dark song while still remaining very much a song that you could dance to. The second of the three singles follows this. Blood shows that Editors do have pop sensibilities in the incredibly rhythmic drumming of Ed Lay, while still being able to show their bitterness through the lyrics from Smith. Then comes one of the slower and more subdued songs on the record, Fall, which shows another side to the band. It still has the sense of melancholy common throughout the album but builds up to a rousing climax towards the end. “All Sparks” is one of the lighter sounding songs on the album, but Smith’s lyrics reveal otherwise and contain the pessimism that has accounted partly for some of the Joy Division comparisons. Right in the middle of the record is arguably the best song. Camera‘s soft guitar by Urbanowicz and Smith’s melodic vocals create a very somber tone to this song. This slow-burning style should be the direction for Editors to move into if they want to try and escape the comparisons. Then there is Fingers in the Factories, which sounds like Munich Pt. II with slightly stronger rhythms. Fingers in the Factories is most memorable for having one of the best choruses on the album. Bullets was the first of the three singles to be released and suitably so. Its thumping bass and drums with Smith’s lyrics and vocals make it definitely one of the better performances of the album.Someone Says has the up-tempo rhythms similar to those in Bullets and Smith’s powerful vocals again create a strong atmosphere in the song. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom with Editors, as a more uplifting message is told on Open Your Arms, when Smith sings, “Open your arms and welcome,” but the song still contains the band’s melancholy while being very uplifting. The album closes on Distance, another of the slower songs that has the effect of soothing and comforting the listener with Smith’s echoed voice and Urbanowicz’s gentle and subtle guitar.

While the lyrics in some of the songs may show Tom Smith’s current lack of experience as a songwriter, you have to remember that this is only their debut and they are all only 23. No doubt with time Smith will strengthen as a lyricist and the band will outgrow the Interpol and Joy Division comparisons, developing their own unique style in the process. There is no doubt that this is one of the strongest debuts by any band this year.


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