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CD Review: Editors – The Back Room

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Okay, let’s all just get it off our chests right now: Interpol is played out. Way back in 2002 and 2003, hipster college kids across the world were losing their virginity to the rainy day gloom of their vinyl copies of Turn Off the Bright Lights. Everyone was cutting their hair asymmetrically and wearing empty gun holsters while playing their bass guitars. But now it’s 2006, and Interpol’s hype has fizzled out. Neither their site nor Matador’s has any information on what exactly the band is doing, and it’s been months since Pitchfork has released a frenzied Interpol news update. So here it is, the question on everyone’s lips: who will keep the ghost of Ian Curtis alive?

It’s easy to say that Editors’ lead singer Tom Smith is doing just that, as he wails on The Back Room‘s opening track “Lights.” And thankfully, Editors don’t seem to take themselves quite as seriously as Interpol did. But while The Back Room is listenable, what’s really the point? For the entire record, the ghosts of Interpol and Joy Division linger over every track, reminding us of past trends in hipness and semi-indie popularity. What is the point of listening to Editors when they can never overcome all of the other groups they sound like? Yes, they’re currently an “It” Band. Yes, the songs sound good as I play them on my record player. But I’ve listened to this record six times now, and it never stays with me. It’s just blandly good. It has the sound that all the indie mags and New York blogs rave about, but what about inventiveness? What about creativity? What about excitement? Does the world really need to buzz so much about a record that’s already been made at least four times before?

The more this record plays, the more dead it feels. There’s no passion in Editors; there’s nothing to connect to emotionally or intellectually. To be worthy of all of the praise, all of the buzz Editors has been gathering, there should be something there. There should be something more after unraveling the layers of sound, the repetitive hollow vocals, to justify Editors; there should be a heart beneath the robot’s sterling silver suit. But for this reviewer, all that appears is another trendy band into whom too many people are reading too much.

Reviewed by Megan Giddings

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  • Brian

    This is an extremely lazy review. Outside of the similarities between the voices of Ian Curtis and Tom Smith (which I don’t think Smith can help), Editors don’t sound like Joy Division at all, and I say this as someone who lists Closer as my favorite album of all time. Joy Division’s music never featured the blatant hooks or prominent guitars that are sprinkled throughout The Back Room. Joy Division’s music was much sparser, more atmospheric. Listen to Joy Division again, and you’ll see that mood was always more important than “rock” energy.

    It’s fine if you don’t like Editors’ album, but at least get your facts right. You don’t discuss any of the specific reasons why you dislike the record, other than some vague mention of “layers of sound” and a brief aside about one song, “Lights.” You base your entire review on who they supposedly resemble, and why that’s a bad thing, but nothing about the actual album you’re discussing.

    Your review revealed more about Interpol’s website than it did about The Back Room.