Editors: Violence review – brawny, hooky and tinged with feeling

(Play It Again Sam)

A man untroubled by Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory, 16 years in, Editors’ Tom Smith still writes lyrics like he’s planning the script for a particularly zealous ghost tour. Lovers scream, bones turn to dust, streets are paved with souls and poor old Britain has been reduced to “charred remains”. So Violence’s crowning achievement is that most of this portentous nonsense is disguised by music that is often genuinely fun.

To their chagrin, Editors have never managed to escape the curse of comparisons that has plagued them since their 2005 debut earned them the nickname “Boy Division”. After a mid-career foray into Coldplay-worthy platitudes, the five-piece lighten up on album six, embracing the imperious camp of Depeche Mode, with assistance from producers Leo Abrahams and Fuck Buttons’​ Benjamin John Power. With a bit more razzle-dazzle, Cold, Nothingness and Darkness at the Door could be genuine goth-pop bangers à la Chvrches ​– brawny, hooky and tinged with the ​ feeling that was lacking on Editors’ emotionally desolate earlier records.

That tonal shift makes a huge difference. Smith allows himself more range on Violence, which goes some way to selling his daft lyrics: rasping with paranoia on the title track, desperate and determined on Magazine, whose chorus is genuinely transporting and contains the album’s sharpest lyrics.

“Now talk the loudest with a clenched fist,” Smith sings, ostensibly about Trump: “Top of a hit list, gag a witness.” Apocalyptic ballads No Sound But the Wind and Belong still sound like wading through ​molten Tarmac, and some experimentation doesn’t land, but for the most part, Violence is a thoroughly unexpected ​career peak.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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