The Indie Equation

The Unholy Marriage of Music and Math.


Equation #33: Editors

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The definition of "emo" has been the subject of countless inquires, arguments and late night, coffee/Ritalin fueled discussions. Hell, even local news is getting in on the dialog (Jenny Tatone, you know what I'm sayin'.) Is it strictly defined by mopey teenagers with eyeliner, nautical star tattoos, lip piercings and shaggy bangs? I'm sure Hot Topic would like to think so. Is it as vague and open-ended as simply "emotion", whether it be in music, poems, or art? Doubtful. That definition is about as valid as calling a band "indie" these days. (Guess what Hipsters, when Death Cab for Cutie signed to Atlantic they stopped being indie, that doesn't mean they suck now.) So what is "emo"? I chose to apply the old euphemism usually tagged to difficult art pieces; "I can't define art, but I know what I like". In other words, you know it when you see it.

When Editors released their debut "The Back Room" last year they were met with the task of ducking the shackles tying them to Joy Division, Interpol and She Wants Revenge; granted their place on that train is fitting and not entirely uncomfortable, but Editors had more in mind than just carrying the much desired Ian Curtis torch, they wanted to actually affect people with their music. The skipped the cold, cocky smarm of their contemporaries and aligned themselves with more "emotional" bands (like "emo", see how I tied that in?) like Elbow, British Sea Power, Doves and even The Verve. Their debut stood out, it grabbed people's attention and tingled some neck hairs here and there and it was no accident that, while they blended in nicely with much of the dancey post-punk in the mix today, people actually remembered that the band was Editors and the song was Munich.

Their second outing sees Editors following much the same path they chose in 2006 but with affecting improvements. While their arsenal of choice hasn't changed they've managed to pack more content and at least as much feeling into the music alone. That's saying nothing for Tom Smith's lyrics which have stepped away from "The Back Room"'s often repetitive lyrical framework and moved into a much more thought-out, inventive arena. Not to say that there aren't choruses or hooks here, there certainly are, but there's at least more actual words in these new songs. The themes of the songs follow suit from before; love, hope, trust and friendship with the usual grandiose reprises and soaring confessions of fear, loneliness and longing to keep it grounded. The album's opener "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" is reminiscent of Coldplay but without the obligatory sappiness and engineered emotion. It's a good choice for a first track, it pulls you in emotionally but gets the heart-swelling over with early on so you're not gagging by the end of the album. The majority of the remaining tracks are more driving and up-beat, save the gorgeously worded "The Weight of the World" and "Push Your Head Towards the Air", and put to bed any worries that Editors have gone all adult contemporary on their fans. Tracks like "The Racing Rats", "Escape the Nest" and title track "An End Has a Start" are more forceful and intense and overall the album seems to have more of a sense of urgency than the last, as though "The Back Room" was a plea that didn't take and "An End Has a Start" is a more serious and desperate request.

For those who feel a band should reinvent themselves each time they release a record then you'll probably scoff at how similar these two albums are at times, but "The Back Room" worked for the same reasons this works and there's nothing wrong with the continuation of a theme as long as it's where you're most effective and "An End Has a Start" is a very effective album.


  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Josh said…

    You give the Editors more credit than I. Based upon the like... 3 songs I've heard my equation would have looked something like: Interpol + Interpol - Interpol x Interpol = Inter- I mean, Editors.


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