Ten years after the release of their iconic debut album ‘The Back Room’, Editors are back with their fifth studio album In Dream, in what is possibly their most experimental and interesting album to date. Ditching their guitars for orchestras, big synthesiser sounds and pianos, Editors paint a haunting, beautiful, introspective picture as each song seamlessly fades into the next. It’s a shift that may upset fans who long for the days of their classic FIFA-esque indie pop guitar-based tunes such as ‘Munich’ and ‘Papillon’.
After the confused identity of their disappointing fourth album The Weight of Your Love in 2013, possibly due to the departure of Chris Urbanowicz in 2012, the band joined with Slowdives’s Rachel Goswell. The now five-piece recorded the self-produced album in isolation in Crear, Scotland. Goswell primarily adds subtle husky backing vocals and notably a larger contribution in the song ‘The Law’ in which she and lead singer Tom Smith duet; the slight disparity of their voices combining to chilling effect.
The album opens with the eerie sound of an arpeggiated synthesiser in ‘No Harm’, setting the melancholy tone for the rest of the album. Smith shows off his vocal repertoire in stunning isolation as he delivers a low gravelly tone throughout the verse then smoothly shifts into a gliding falsetto in the chorus, simply saying “No harm, no harm”. The following song ‘Ocean of the Night’ gives the listener a more settled, easy listening song to get in to and broadens the sonic pallet with a huge synth-rock lead sound, a theme that reappears in many other tracks. ‘Forgiveness’ takes the album on a menacing turn lyrically as Smith repeatedly tells us that “Forgiveness makes fools of all of us”. Following this ‘Salvation’ sees the band introduce the first heavy use of orchestral instruments as a chorus of violins grandly open the song and continue to punctuate the song with piercing unrelenting chords throughout. In a somewhat mismatched order ‘Life Is A Fear’ takes a complete tangent off the course of the album and takes us to the jumping synth bass lines and harsh synth leads of the early 1980’s, reminiscent of Gary Numan. ‘All the Kings’ is possibly the best musical effort of the whole album. Layer upon layer builds up throughout the song and culminates in a soaring incrementing chorus which disguises itself as the silver lining to the cloud, but the juxtaposed content of the lyrics holds the darker truth. The journey of the album takes us to its darkest destination with ‘At All Cost’, a song which is a naked vocal and lyrical showcase. With simple unadorned background music, Smith is free is come into fruition and explore new emotional depth. “Out of touch and older than I look, I’ve got nothing to say. To my oldest friends, what to say? The awkward silence carried on anxious legs. Hold my hand, let’s dance.” The song is a desperate cry for help, making way for the grandeur of the near 8 minute closing song ‘Marching Orders’.
Editors certainly seemed to have found their feet after their previous album, which saw the first major introduction of electronica to their music, that lacked identity and direction. They are not quite the same catchy guitar band the UK grew to love in 2005, but In Dream provides a crafted, mature sound which is somehow haunting, beautiful and unique all at the same time. The album is a musical journey which tells a story and is a wonderful destination to arrive at after years of exploration and development.