Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taking you through the streets of London - Editors "In this Light and on this Evening"

As with most of the music I have been talking about on this blog, I hadn’t heard of Editors until today, when I bought their recently released album In this Light and on this Evening and so have not been particularly swept up in the discussions, which I have been reading a bit today (in my lunch break, of course) about how this band is constantly reinventing and transforming itself, winning new recruits to its fan base, and losing old ones, along the way.

But what I have been swept up in is the music itself – an amazing album that pretty well took my breath away from the moment it started to the moment it finished. That, by the way, was only just under 45 minutes, which isn’t that long for an album – but it’s a decent amount of time to be breathless.

It starts with its title track, and with dark, ominous chuggings, like the sounds of a city in the night, raw and harsh but somehow enticing, waking you from an unsettled sleep.

“I swear to God/I heard the Earth inhale moments before it spat its rain down on me” we hear. And the rain certainly does come down – in torrents: a thunderstorm of electronic synthesisers and beats, dark and big, creating a kind of apocalyptic beauty. It’s an explosive track to open an album with – and feels like a night city springing to life.

The rest of the album takes you through that city, rushing you through its glaring streets, its clubs, its faces, its loves, its politics, its wars. The music blazes with a light that threatens as much as it allures. Everything moves fast here: love is aflame one minute and is being buried the next and, while you let yourself go, pumped with the music’s energy, you can’t help the feeling that there’s something more ominous watching you from the shadows.

Listen, for example, to ‘Papillon’, where you are immersed in both the thrill and the claustrophobia of modern life, with words like “when it kicks like a sleep twitch/you will choke, choke on the air you try to breath” to whirring dance-floor electronica.

At times you almost feel that the world this album shows you has already had its apocalypse, where you feel a dark, unsettled adrenalin rush through your veins, as you run “… with the dead today/through the cemeteries where ghosts still play” in ‘You don’t know love’, or as you watch as ‘A bruised full moon play fights with the stars’ in “The Boxer”.

All throughout, the music maintains its incredibly intoxicating mix of dark savagery, through a driving, chugging bass line, and a breathless excitement, though amphetamine-charged snyths – perhaps nowhere better than in the unstoppable build up of tension in ‘The Big Exit’.

The music is always rich and shadowy, and the vocals of Tom Smith add to the colour – a dark, even creepy, but strangely smooth, almost velvety, voice. It’s a voice that in another time and place might even sound tender but has now been through too much for that. Listen to the long floating notes in ‘Like Treasure’, his voice flying high through the night air, full of heart-torn passion, above the dark and relentless drive of the music, bemoaning a world where clichés have become the only way of saying anything.

The album closes with ‘Walk the Fleet Road’ which, even with the ominous darkness still there, has an almost lullaby-like sway to it, as if it is rocking you back into the unsettled sleep from which the opening track awoke you.

In this Light and on this Evening is pretty convincing evidence that there is still a lot that can be done with electronica – still a lot of colours for it to create, a lot of things for it to say, and that, even when the pictures it paints are dark and foreboding, it can still get you up on the floor and make you dance.

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