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+ {Smith & Burrows}

Another bunch of gloomsters with a well-thumbed stack of Anglo-fied 80s vinyl, EDITORS arrived well versed in the ways of ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, KITCHENS OF DISTINCTION and JOY DIVISION. Fronted by the dramatic and commanding Tom Smith (who also performed rhythm guitar and piano), their dark and brooding albums have won over fans from a new generation of miserabilist devotees, as well as drawing in a multitude of ageing acolytes from a long-lost 80s era – the afterlife begins here.
Formed 2003 in Birmingham, initially as Pilot, The Pride and then Snowfield, by Stafford University Music Technology graduates Smith, Chris Urbanowicz (lead guitar/synths), Russell Leetch (bass) and Ed Lay (drums); the latter superseding Geraint Owen, the EDITORS’ hypnotic restraints created a stir when playing on “unsigned bands” gigs around the Midlands. The quartet even surfaced on Newcastle’s reactivated Kitchenware imprint, a label last sighted as a rest home for PREFAB SPROUT.
2005 proved a good year for the band’s woebegone copy as their inaugural trio of 45s, `Bullets’, `Munich’ and `Blood’, circulated in ever greater numbers; the latter splattering into the Top 20. EDITORS debut album, THE BACK ROOM (2005) {*8}, drew predictable comparisons to Anglo-American Ian Curtis acolytes, INTERPOL, although the aforementioned Smith had the impressive ability to subtly vary the effect of his fathoms-deep, CHAMELEONS-esque vocal. A No.13 placing proved not so unlucky, as higher charting re-issues of `Bullets’ and `Munich’ (plus their final single from the album, `All Sparks’), eventually propelled the set into the Top 3. B-side covers at the time stemmed from: STEREOLAB (`French Disko’), TALKING HEADS (`Road To Nowhere’) and R.E.M. (`Orange Crush’).
Despite being nominated for a Mercury Music Prize, America was slow on the uptake, but that mattered nothing as the EDITORS scribed a sophomore work by way of the British chart-topping AN END HAS A START (2007) {*7}. Going for the COLDPLAY crescendo/climactic cookbook of sorts, the headlines on show here were the hits: `Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ (very topical at the time), `The Racing Rats’ and the title track. Elongating their sonar sagas into well-crafted chapters of gothic nihilism, other moments of gloomy delights came through `Push Your Head Towards The Air’ and `The Weight Of The World’.
However, the formula was wearing thin of the Flood-produced third set, IN THIS LIGHT AND ON THIS EVENING (2009) {*6}. Number one again, the EDITORS seemed to have pulled off another fruitful; and then the record plummeted out of the Top 10 on its second weeks in the charts. `Papillion’ was its only Top 30 spawn, as synthesizers kicked against the prickly post-punk passion generated by a near guitar-less group. Bombastic and self-conscious broody (no change there then), the quartet’s insular and cathartic exercises were math’d out on the likes of `Bricks And Mortar’ (an extension too far) and `The Big Exit’. Still, if one could put the sharp cutlery away under lock and key, one could grow to love the likes of `Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’.
A conflict of interest led to the subsequent exit stage left of Urbanowicz, leaving the remaining alumni to pick up two other deputies, lead guitarist Justin Lockey (ex-YOURCODENAMEIS: MILO) and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Williams (of AIRSHIP) to fill his vacant berth. Tom Smith, and his erstwhile buddy, Andy Burrows (of I AM ARROWS), took the opporchancity of delivering a festive set, FUNNY LOOKING ANGELS (2011) {*6} – as SMITH & BURROWS. Not totally Xmas-orientated, it was a nice diversion through the likes of the surprisingly gorgeous, `Only You’ (YAZOO), `Wonderful Life’ (BLACK) and `On And On’ (The LONGPIGS).
Back to his day-job in the EDITORS, the crooning Tom and Co finally released that elusive fourth album: THE WEIGHT OF YOUR LOVE (2013) {*6}. Produced in an old theatre in Nashville by Jacquire King, the band went into romantic overdrive on the ballad-y `What Is This Thing Called Love’ and `Honesty’. Although the soulful `A Ton Of Love’ failed to register in an unsympathetic download-fixated world, `The Weight’ and the hook-line `Formaldehyde’, were certainly the most atmospheric pop pieces on parade.
Re-imagining monochromic Tom Smith as a modern-day Ian Curtis fighting off falsetto tendencies a la JIMMY SOMERVILLE, EDITORS kick-started their Top 5 follow-up set – IN DREAM (2015) {*7} – with the mournful `No Harm’. Others bolstered by the cerebral backing of SLOWDIVE’s Rachel Goswell (long-time absent from the land of dream-pop/shoe-gaze), each piece weaved into an anthemic bliss – the grandiose `Salvation’ and the U2/SIMPLE MINDS-esque epic `Marching Orders’, both stylistic and sophisticated. Lyrically astute and off-kilter (one would be hard-pressed to out-do “the flag in your hand don’t make you American” on `Forgiveness’), the schizoid EDITORS only suffered when reaching for the high-octane heavens on the GIORGIO MORODER-esque `Life Is A Fear’ and the BRONSKI BEAT-en `Our Love’.
With nothing going to press in 2016, Justin afforded himself time out to concentrate on moonlight project, MINOR VICTORIES, a 4-piece combination that comprised his brother James, MOGWAI guitarist Stuart Braithwaite and the aforementioned Rachel Goswell. They dispatched one eponymous set.
For the most part lighter in vocal tone (probably closer to BOWIE and McCULLOCH than Curtis), singer Tom Smith and his newsworthy alumni of EDITORS teamed up with producer Leo Abrahams for the release of 6th set, VIOLENCE (2018) {*7}; a brief Top 10 entry. Tom’s lyrical inspiration for single, `Hallelujah (So Low)’, was said to be from his Oxfam expedition to aid refugees stranded in northern Greece, whilst other songs such as `Magazine’ (also a download single), `Darkness At The Door’, `Nothingness’ and `Counting Sparks’, shifted toward catchier hooks and emotional theatrics. One deep track in particular that might’ve escaped the clutches of fans first time around, `No Sound But The Wind’ (which took heart from author Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road), had once made its premier way back in 2009 on the V/A “Twilight Saga: New Moon” soundtrack.
© MC Strong 2006/ERD // rev-up MCS Jul2013-Mar2018

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