Saturday, October 17, 2009

#78. 'Still my broken limbs you find time to mend'

Editors "An End Has a Start"

Sometimes it's nice to be surprised. I remember giving the Editors' debut The Back Room a snub upon its release simply because the British press were showering them with their particularly obnoxious brand of 'new big thing omfg guys' hype. Given how underwhelmed I had been with the last few of those I figured it would be a waste of time, and besides, I had fuckloads of stuff stuck in my listening queue and didn't need anything else thankyouverymuch. If someone had told me that they were Interpol with more bite to the vocals I'd have gotten to them sooner, but these things happen in musical triage: you try to weed out the lost causes so you can spend time with the ones that require attention.

I still haven't gotten around to The Back Room yet, but after the streak of great singles off it's follow up An End Has a Start I'm actually somewhat looking forward to hearing it. If the triad of "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors," "The Racing Rats" and especially "An End Has a Start" are at all indicative of what they can do then they might actually get to replace Interpol at the head of the 'post-punk revival bands who sound like Joy Division/New Order' subgenre. "An End Has a Start" leans decidedly towards the latter musically, though Tom Smith's vocals are the same as they ever were, thankfully, and as such immediately grabbed my attention in a way that it's peers didn't. Both of the other singles from AEHAS are damned good, don't get me wrong, but they don't hold a candle to the title track. They're both still firmly in the dark, depressed Interpolian sound that much of their parent album resides in. "An End Has a Start" is a glorious little outlier that maintains the darkness of its surroundings on some levels but moves beyond them on others, and does it while packing one hell of a hook.

The thing you'll immediately notice when you hear "An End Has a Start" is just how sprightly it sounds compared to its surroundings. The guitars ring out in an unmistakably upbeat pattern, the drums are heavy enough on the hi-hat to make it danceable - of all things - and that wash of synths just adds a level of grandeur to it that completes the picture. Basically, the whole song sounds huge, pristine and most of all inviting. At least until Smith singing that is; dude's pretty much the Matt Berringer of the UK post-punk scene, an unrelentingly bitter sod whose voice is perfectly suited for all manner of depressing lyrics. The weird thing is that even though the lyrics here are as bitter as you'd expect the power of the song's atmosphere seems to recast them in a much more palatable light. It's hard to make a rejection as scathing as 'you came on your own/that's how you'll leave' sound like the sort of chorus any number of bands might kill for, but the way Smith's voice goes along with the music in that section does just that. I can't figure out how the band managed to turn some of the most bitter lyrics into the gold that is that damned chorus,but I'm grateful that it happened since the results are this good.

Coming up tomorrow: Chart watching HELL YEAH moment of the highest order.

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