Friday, September 20, 2013

Album Review: Editors – The Weight of Your Love (2013)

We’ve seen it so many times before. An up and coming young “indie” band starts to outgrow its modest roots, it starts to sell its “product” in quantities it previously could only have ever dreamed about, and it starts getting invites to all the big festivals. Where does it go from here? And how does it avoid those pesky allegations of having “sold out”?

Welcome to a dilemma currently being faced by Birmingham (UK) band Editors, one that has been faced by countless other bands that reach the same career crossroads – the most notable recent high profile example being a band such as The Killers, a band not all that dissimilar to Editors in style. It is a crossroads that many bands – or any half decent band with wider aspirations – reach around album number three, or in the case of Editors, we’re up to studio album number four.
Mainstream popularity, or what might otherwise be called crossover success, usually comes with a hidden cost; the permanent loss of many of those who supported the band during its earliest days – all of the hipsters too cool to like a band once it achieves a certain level of mainstream success. And usually it comes with an accusation ... “oh they used to be good, I used to like them, but then they sold out”.

Ah well, even after a band has lost a section of its original core support, there’s the small matter of all that cash rolling in by way of consolation ... and it seems rather more than mere coincidence that the more sales Editors achieve, the harsher the critical reception it faces. So far, for the band’s latest, The Weight of Your Love, that reception has been a mixed bag.

Main-staging: Editors at Reading
One of the things to immediately strike me upon first listen to The Weight of Your Love was just how stadium ready it was. These guys are not only ready for all of the big festivals, they’re desperate to headline. The album is packed full of potential live anthems, and the band’s music no longer feels restrained, intimate, or even modest. In fact, the sound is big, bloated, and actually, just quietly, more than a little pompous and full of itself.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some lovely music on the album, particularly the stuff that references Editors of old, that post-Bunnymen, not-quite-Joy Division stuff. But the majority of material just doesn’t gel with me. It all feels a little bit forced, a little too earnest and eager to please. Big on chorus and orchestration, nothing like the more stripped back darker music that first attracted me to the band. It’s better than some of the cack spewed forth in recent years by contemporaries such as Interpol and, um, The Killers, but it’s generally not all that appealing either.

That The Weight of Your Love contains an unusual (for Editors) proliferation of songs dedicated to matters of the heart suggests the band ultimately decided to try to appeal a wider mass, rather than a select fussy few. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to top the bill and make the sort of music that festival goers love, so long as you realise that not everyone is going to thank you for it.

Highlights: ‘A Ton of Love’, ‘Formaldehyde’, and what is the clear stand-out for me, ‘The Phone Book’ (see clip).


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