After their thrilling debut, Editors seemed to take two steps back with the laboured and over-earnest follow-up ‘An End Has A Start’. A rethink was obviously necessary and Editors have made the radical move of ditching the guitars and bringing in the synths. The result is an artistic triumph and time may tell that it could be more rewarding than their debut.
Any accusations of “selling out” can swiftly be countered by the album’s opening track. Against a backdrop of shimmering electronic noise, Tom Smith’s intones bleak phrases. It’s less a song then a mood piece which only picks up the urgency for a final keyboard flourish. Krautrock is at the heart of ‘Bricks And Mortar’ and here Smith gives his best Ian Curtis impersonation. In fact the synths seem so in tune with the early 80’s period that it’s feasible Joy Division could have made this track if Curtis had lived for a couple more years. That is until the two and a half minute mark when the arrangements get busier and the chorus kicks in. Still, it’s a great track however you compare it. Equally impressive is the next offering, ‘Papillon’, which makes use of vintage synth pop tricks but still sounds anthemic; certainly helped by the hookline “It kicks like a sweep twitch”.
‘You Don’t Know Love’, ‘The Big Exit’ and ‘The Boxer’ are sombre but deeply satisfying songs which prove they are becoming increasingly more adept at producing strong and emotional album tracks. The excitement returns, though, for ‘Like Treasure’, a magnificently brooding tune but with a modern, edgy backing and a stunning chorus starring Smith’s uplifting baritone and supported by some haunting backing vocal effects. The performance concludes with ‘Walk The Fleet Road’; an elegant closer which is – if you’ll pardon the Joy Division reference again – their ‘Atmosphere’.
‘In This Light And On This Evening’ is a brave album for Editors to make. Though standards slipped on their second record, they still retained a very healthy fanbase. With its drastic attempt to change the style and its subsequent lack of commercial appeal, their third album could alienate some of those old fans but ultimately they have become a better band for it.