Editors – EBM (Album Review)

Unpredictable, inimitable, Editors recently returned with the appropriately-titled EBM, their highly-anticipated follow-up to 2018’s Violence. PIAS Recordings delivered the electronic massage on September 23, 2022.

Hailing from England, Editors has made a career out of reincarnating itself with each record. Their 2005 Indie Rock debut, The Back Room, was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, but that fact didn’t bring any pause to the band when creating 2007’s synth-laden An End Has A Start. Similar transformations have become part and parcel of the group, which proudly went on to deliver 2009’s In This Light and On This Evening, 2013’s The Weight of Your Love, 2015’s In Dream, and the aforementioned Violence.

We’re quite used to that feeling of scaring our audience with new material,Frontman Tom Smith says with a smile. Alongside Guitarist Justin Lockey, Bassist Russell Leetch, Drummer Ed Lay, and Keyboardist/Guitarist Elliott Williams—the collective known as Editors—he co-produced the band’s Electro-Industrial Rock latest, EBM.

It’s a title that is apt to translate to Electronic Body Music for many, but it is also the acronym for its combined producers: Editors and Blanck Mass (the Ivor Novello-winning composer Benjamin John Power, who is now the sixth member of the group). Appropriately, the 9-song collection, the band’s seventh full-length, is as eclectic as its forebears and creators, traveling across influences that range from The Cure to Skinny Puppy to Nine Inch Nails and beyond.

But the final result is all very much Editors. Imbuing Darkwave with the now sextet’s anthemic nature has crafted something that sits comfortably in a subspace that is simultaneously Synthpop and Alt-Rock. It is also the lifeline that the band and Power stumbled upon during the pandemic, the all-night rave that brought the two factions together to create musical magic. Think strobe lights flashing off vegan leather, platform boots with padlocked chains, and a dense fog rising from the grave on an October night.

The 9-track EBM upholds all the promises inherent in its title, opening to the neon love of “Heart Attack,” an electronic beat-driven fist pumping the life’s blood of the dancefloor. A satisfying earworm, it fluidly twists our bodies into the syncopated “Picturesque,” a lovely mess, before traveling into the ‘80s nostalgia-inducing Darkwave of “Karma Climb.” The latter offers a perfect format for its hedonistic crawl, a slither that evokes the likes of Nitzer Ebb canoodling with Placebo in a shadowy corner.

Starting strong with a massive wall of sound, “Kiss” revels in its own insecurities. As it evolves, Smith approaches the track from the higher part of his vocal range before going low, all as a beat like a bubble tea for the ears percolates across the flesh. Ending with piano, it organically shifts into the ambient “Silence,” where flutterby synths place a salve on previous complications, exhaling a moment of absence. If this sounds like a calming moment, well, it is. But the beat picks up ten-fold for “Strawberry Lemonade,” a percussive wet dream destined to titillate the hypocritical as it hunts for someone sweet among the sweaty thrum of bodies.

With dewdrops slithering down pale flesh, they invite all creatures of the night to raise their (clove) cigarettes to the cold, hard, ironically feel-good, “Vibe.” With the immortal beat continuing onward, they sparkle beneath the façade of “Educate,” a juxtaposition of social commentary and ethereal sway that is equal parts apathetic and passionate. And then there’s “Strange Intimacy.” The album’s bleak closer snaps, crackles, and pops for 90 seconds before any vocals arrive on the scene. A rocker at its core, its inclusion of keyboard melodies throughout its chorus is somewhat unexpected yet deliciously fulfilling, eclipsing any lingering gray moods—or deviously adding fuel to the fire.

Like an ouroboros, EBM manages to come full circle, inviting listeners to carry the dance party into infinity and beyond. Put more simply: “Strange Intimacy” leads successfully into “Heart Attack,” beginning the cycle anew and delivering a natural flow that is without flaw. In this, these nine pieces of body music provide a soundtrack that does not require any interruptions and can easily go all night.

Resting upon a foundation of nostalgia-inducing synths and grooves that show affection for some of the finest artists in New Wave, Industrial, and beyond, Editors’ latest is guaranteed to lend the Brits plenty of new ears. For this,
EBM is a proud addition to their already impressive oeuvre of material, yet again proving their talents to be truly immortal. Thus, Cryptic Rock gives the album 5 out of 5 stars.

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