//Play it Again Sam//
£28.99 – 2xLP, Very Limited Edition Orange Vinyl with Etched D-Side
£25.99 – 2xLP, Very Limited Edition Vinyl with Etched D-Side
Editors have never been a band who do what’s expected. When they emerged in the early 2000s, university friends from Birmingham, they were swept into a wave of indie groups with whom they had little in common beyond playing guitars. Then, after their 2005 Mercury Prize-shortlisted debut The Back Room and 2007 #1 follow-up An End Has A Start, they switched up their sound for synths. That was their first act of bravery, says frontman Tom Smith, and they’ve been taking risks ever since. “We’re quite used to that feeling of scaring our audience with new material,” he says with a smile.
Making EBM was “a lifeline” during the pandemic, says Elliott Williams (keyboard/guitar), “something to totally get lost in.” Indeed, they’ve created a world brimming with drama and intensity, which is exhilarating after the past few years of collective listlessness. “The songs feel like an escape,” nods Tom. The album title is an acronym of Editors and Blanck Mass (aka Benjamin John Power) but also a knowing reference to Electronic Body Music, the potent sound that originated in the 1980s and which has hugely influenced Editors’ new material, where the synths of bands like Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 , DAF and Skinny Puppy hammer darkly. Think smoke machines, strobe lights and the smell of leather. The band has taken those influences in a distinctly Editors direction: see the soaring falsetto of standout ‘Kiss’, their disco-infused “crying on the dancefloor” banger, says Tom, which Benjamin adds “could almost be a Donna Summer song” if it wasn’t so heavy. Or the punchy chorus of ‘Karma Climb’, a stomping single that pairs ghostly atmospherics with stadium-level anthemia. On ‘Vibe’, which is the closest thing to what you could call a ‘feelgood’ Editors track, Tom wanted to put a “summertime sheen” on “a song for disconnected youth”. It’s Editors at their most super goth, sure – but also their most pop.
For the most part, EBM revels in maximalism. The battle cry of lead single ‘Heart Attack’ sets out their stall, a twinkling rock ballad with a serrated, noirish undercurrent that lets rip into gloriously metallic riffage. From there, it’s a torrid release of beats, blips and broodiness: all killer, no filler; full-on but never overloaded. ‘Educate’ is almost symphonic in scope, as Tom angrily intones about the uncertainty of modern times. ‘Strawberry Lemonade’, meanwhile, is an all-blooping, all-thwacking bodice-ripper, with drums that sound like they might punch out of the speakers. Album closer ‘Strange Intimacy’ is “the most outrageous” of the album, says Tom – “not a particularly happy place to end, as it’s quite a bleak look at a relationship, but the arrangement of it gives it this theatricality.” It’s certainly the most ambitious Editors have ever sounded, where Justin’s “preposterous” guitar riff gives way, he says, to a “mad eight-minute techno odyssey” at the end.
Another about-turn is the jittering crescendo of ‘Silence’ – the album’s post-rock ‘breather’, if you can call it that. Tom’s baritone has never sounded better, recalling a young Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’. He’s never much been one for direct lyrics. On EBM, there are undeniable references to the pandemic and a divided Britain (“can you feel the broken nation?” he intones on ‘Strawberry Lemonade’) but these are slivers of reality among the abstract, in songs that are largely about losing yourself in the unknown. “I think it’s always better when the listener can draw their own conclusions from what I write,” he says. Justin agrees. “We sit in quite an emotional space, so everyone always wants to know what the words are about, but the music is half the emotion and what sets the mood and the tempo. Sometimes it’s better just to give yourself over to that rather than to try and work out what something means all the time.” It comes back to this idea of letting the mood take over, of giving in, and getting lost. And it’s going to sound absolutely eviscerating live. It’s a new world, and a new chapter for Editors – as it is for everyone. Time to move your body.
- Heart attack
- Karma climb
- Strawberry lemonade
- Strange intimacy