March 6, 2018 Editors – Violence (Album Review)
Few bands are fortunate enough to be able to twist and turn with their sound at will. Usually it boils down to the challenge of sustaining longevity, or having an audience willing enough to go along the musical journey in an open-minded fashion. Don’t look now, but the UK Rock collective known as Editors have been putting out music for nearly 15 years now. Hard to believe since it seems like it was almost yesterday their 2005 debut album The Back Room was making waves across the seas and had audiences tuning in the world over. What is even more difficult to fathom is how the band has seemingly not produced the same record twice. They have shifted with ease from piano laden Rock, as heard on 2007’s An End Has a Start, to Synthpop with 2009’s In This Light and on This Evening, to surprising with the more natural progression of 2013’s The Weight of Your Love, and all out dazzled on the hybrid effort of 2015’s In Dream. Which begs the question, where will they go next?
Brace yourself, because Editors – Tom Smith (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Russell Leetch (bass guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals), Ed Lay (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Justin Lockey (lead guitar), and Elliott Williams (keys, synthesizers, guitars, and backing vocals) – are set to return with their sixth overall studio album curiously entitled Violence. Due out Friday, March 9, 2018 via PIAS, Violence comes complete with thought provoking cover art depicting two men and a woman entwined with one another. What does it means? You decide. Afterall, isn’t art supposed to be open to interpretation? Nonetheless the album is complete with 9 new tracks that are everything one would expect from Editors and than some.
There is the use of synthesizers throughout, much like previous albums, but also previlate is a heavy Rock sound. A surprising shift for Editors, or is it? Remember, expect the unexpected with this band. That said, the other clear difference this go around is the feel is much more upbeat. From the basslines to the overall vibe of the album , these songs are more Pop oriented in many ways. Right from the start with colorful electronics on “Cold,” a tune where Smith uses his impressive vocal range , to Muse-like “Hallelujah (So Low),” where the verse is moody before a powerful, heavy chorus kicks in, you know you are in for a fun ride.
Fortunately, Editors do not get stuck on one sound and follow suit for an entire album. That can often be a bad habit a band can fall into, making for a redundant and boring listen. Editors instead change it up for each and every song. For example, the title-track “Violence” is an easy listening cut that has a tempo vaguely familiar to that heard on The Back Room. Then, “Darkness At The Door” is anything other than what you would expect the title implies. It is more bright, loud electronics matched with a sing-along verse and chorus that has an irresistible bounce. Want something a little more melancholy? Not to worry, “Nothingness” offers just that with a cross between the dark and light. Here Editors unity various styles for a plentiful mix of instrumentation that never goes dull.
Interestingly enough, rather than smack their audience in the face right away with the album’s lead single, as well as their latest music video, “Magazine” is tucked toward the band end of Violence. A delightfully catchy song, it is danceable, diverse, and can open the band up to an entirely new audience. And those Editors fans looking for a subdued, more organic composition, look no further than “No Sound But The Wind.” A piano driven song, Smith’s voice is soft, in your ear, and captivating. Here the talented singer/songwriter taps into his inner father as if he is speaking softly to a child, looking to protect them from the harms of the cruel outside world.
All wonderful songs in their own right, the ride of Violence comes a dramatic end. First, there is the comforting sounds of “Counting Spooks” before the eerie epic “Belong.” Taking on a feel similar to “No Harm,” “Belong” is complimented by a slow build along with orchestration mixed with carefully constructed electronic tones. It is a sound that would make Ultravox’s Midge Ure smile proudly, and a flawless soundtrack-like ending to Violence.
Violence is yet another grand accomplishment from one of the world’s most underrated bands. Editors quietly top charts internationally, yet if you say their name to the average person, they would likely have no idea who you are talking about. Utterly astounding when you consider all the truly breathtaking music this band has produced throughout the years. The best part about it all is they never seem to grow long in the tooth. In fact, they seem to showcase further brilliance with each passing release. Violence is no different and is worthy of critical acclaim for being music that is real and exploratory of a variety of human emotions. For that CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.