This is a piece I wrote for a small summer term Music Technology research project. It isn't assessed work or coursework, so it doesn't matter too much if I post it.
A Controversial Recording
Editors – In This Light and On This Evening
The third album release from Editors saw the British band take a new direction away from their post-punk roots. Debut “The Back Room” clearly demonstrated a Joy Division influence, and were quickly compared to the likes of Interpol with their doom and gloom indie-rock style. Despite this the album quickly gained critical success and peaked at number 2 in the UK charts. When it came to the difficult second album, Editors hit the ground running and “An End Has A Start” topped the charts at number one, although some claimed it to be a more commercial Joy Division.
However, third album “In This Light and On This Evening” has sparked mixed opinions from the music industry and fans alike. Perhaps more New Order than Joy Division, the 9 track album lays heavily on the synthesisers rather than sparkling guitar riffs and comparisons focus more on the 80’s synth pop of Kraftwerk rather than the late 90s/00s post-punk revival by Interpol. It wasn’t exactly what fans had been expecting. Luke Turner for the NME awarded the album 5/10, writing: “Indeed, they’ve possibly succeeded in alienating the casual fan with the brief moments of nastiness that are here.” And it is true that many fans did just turn their noses up Editors’ third offering. Why? Maybe the “casual fan” was expecting the usual Radio 1 friendly vocal, guitar, bass, drum line up with a catchy tune that doesn’t stray from the comfort zone of the first two albums, taking back the 40 year old dads to their Joy Division days. But you can’t continue to reproduce the same sound over and over and over... ideas run out. Originality is lost. As Ben Urdang points out with “An End...” the band “encountered some criticism for essentially reproducing a similar sounding album... In This Light and On This Evening, the band have progressed, having eschewed their trusty guitar sound in favour of one more synthesized. It's both understandable and positive that they've decided to make that move rather than dourly churn out more of the same.” While Nick Mitchell, giving the album 2/5, believes “the problem with their progression is that they lay on the retro electronics too thickly, as if eager to prove how much they’ve changed.” Just as Bloc Party attempted with “Intimacy” and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with “Zero”, the third album is the golden opportunity to reinvent yourself as a band; to add in those outside influences which were too risky to fuel the difficult second album; too... synth-y.
It wasn’t just development in sound that sparked mixed opinions. Front man Tom Smith’s lyrics also created interest among reviews. Mitchell writes “...most are oblique and disconnected” and Ian Cohen (awarding a 3.7) suggests that Smith “delivers your rebellious 15-year old cousin's next Facebook status”. While Mike Diver indicates that “it might be the best album Editors have yet produced, even if obvious singles are conspicuous by their absence”.
Despite all of this, Drowned In Sound gave the album a 7/10, Allmusic 3.5/5, The Guardian and The Times 4/5 and Clash Music 8/10. Following the success of “An End Has A Start”, it shot to number 1 in the UK charts.
“In This Light...” isn’t “The Back Room”; you can’t just open the door and walk in. You need to dust away the cobwebs and proceed with new eyes, or ears. “In This Light and On This Evening” is definitely not Editors’ best album yet. But how can it be when the sound differs so significantly from that of the previous two? It is not intended to be a follow up to “An End...” but to show the diversity and creativity of a band, which, if having reproduced their previous work, would have been equally criticised for little originality and commercialism. The album still contains Editors’ broad but delicate sound, with memorable riffs and debateable but bold lyrics. Live, “In This Light...” snuggles perfectly in between old numbers as Smith still obtains his energy and passion which drives the songs forward.