The Editors - Back Room

Editors (never The Editors) are a British indie rock band from Birmingham, England, comprised of Tom Smith (lyricist/vocalist/guitarist), Chris Urbanowicz (guitarist), Russ Leetch (bass guitarist) and Ed Lay (drummer). Their brand of epic, sweeping indie rock is frequently compared to other purveyors of such, including Joy Division, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kitchens of Distinction, The Chameleons, and Interpol. However, the band is considered to have achieved their own unique identity which differentiates them from these comparisons.

Editors are four likely lads from Birmingham, England, who've become darlings of the British rock press thanks to a seductive, thoroughly English sound and a wardrobe that evokes Robert Smith shopping at the Gap. Their debut, The Back Room, drags Joy Division into a posh bed of dueling guitars and streamlined atmospherics, with songs that touch on death, disease and doomed love. If you like one Editors song, there's a good chance you'll like them all. But because these swirls of desperation are as much about aura as fully formed tunes, their payoff is negligible.

Editors singer Tom Smith is blessed with that peculiarly British ability to sound simultaneously suave and pained, as if admiring his reflection in a shit-house mirror. When Smith vagues out, so does The Back Room: On "Open Your Arms," Smith stretches his wavery baritone into near oblivion over a slate-gray patter that sounds like Vicodin-numbed Death Cab for Cutie; with "Lights," Smith gazes into the void with a desperation that's damn near cloying. On the album's best songs, the give-and-take between Smith's gossamer croon and his band's tensile shimmer can be seductive. "Bullets" sports a brittle, noise-flecked groove that blossoms into a resplendent spattering of spidery guitars; "All Sparks" delivers a chorus worthy of top-shelf Coldplay. "If fortune favors the brave, then I'm as poor as they come," Smith sings early on. There's the rub: On The Back Room, Smith gets lost in his own gloom-addled mind while attempting to turn despair into gleaming euphoria, and ends up only halfway toward the light.


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