After recording their first two, anthem-heavy albums, Editors retreated from the limelight somewhat with an electronically inclined third. It was a dark, deep and compelling record and for my money, their most consistently satisfying. One of the most significant pieces of news in preparation for the release of ‘The Weight Of Your Love’ was that guitarist Chris Urbanowicz had departed the group citing “differences in musical direction”.
The new album can almost be divided into four quarters, with the first quarter being the most appealing. ‘The Weight’ witness Mr. Smith emerging like a wild west hero claiming “I’m a lump of meat with a heartbeat. Electricity starts me” and it’s the first indication this could feasibly be a Tom Smith solo album. That’s not to dismiss the quality of his bandmates’ contribution. The music is grand and cinematic but it’s over-polished. For a short while the formula really works. ‘Sugar’ benefits from muscular backing and is reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s ‘It’s No Good’ with Smith giving his own portrayal of a dominant frontman, then the song swells into a dramatic ending a la Echo The Bunnymen’s ‘Ocean Rain’. On ‘A Ton Of Love’, the psychedelic intro is also Bunnymen-esque whilst Smith could almost be Bono, particularly in the way he yells “Desire” but other than that he stamps his own identity on the song and is on his strongest chest-beating form for the chorus.
Then the wheels begin to come off. Adorned with strings, ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’ sounds like a vehicle for a former boy band member, Smith certainly has an impressive vocal range but the song itself is in ‘Fix You’ territory. ‘Nothing’ is noticeably classier but the classical arrangement can’t disguise the fact that this song will be tailor-made for the “emotional backstories” in X Factor. This leads to the third section of the album where the group attempt to get angrier but seem to be missing the inspiration of Urbanowicz; certainly ‘Hyena’ makes all the right noises on paper with a searing guitar line but the song comes across as a polite attempt to recall the anthemic glories of yore. By the time of the final quarter of the record, the momentum has even descended into bland acoustic fare such as ‘The Phone Book’, where the title of the song turns out to be its most interesting aspect.
Judging by the largely undemanding indie fare on the album, one can only surmise that Urbanowicz wanted to steer the group away from this stadium-friendly direction so what we are left with is effectively a Tom Smith solo project, with some orchestral backing. Just as their nearest American sound-alikes Interpol disappointed with their last release, Editors also seem to be on a similar creative downward spiral. Let’s hope for a more worthwhile musical direction next time.
U2, Coldplay, Echo And The Bunnymen, Depeche Mode