Seventh album from Birmingham outfit sees them take a gigantic leap into the dark, dodging expectations with unrestrained vigour
Followers of Editors will know the band like to take risks, but even by their standards new album EBM is a gigantic leap into the dark. The dark, in this case, comes from the studio of Benjamin John Power.
Otherwise known as Blanck Mass, and a founder member of Fuck Buttons, Power is now a full-time Editors band member. The transfer has been a smooth process, for he reworked the Violence album in 2018 – and now, for EBM (Editors – Blanck Mass, or Electronic Body Music) he provides raw musical material for singer Ed Smith to apply vocal decorations.
Raw Power it certainly is. Soundscapes crackle with electricity, providing terrific surges of energy, and the band respond with their most frenetic and distorted music to date. Editors would never be described as a ‘comfortable’ band, but now their sound hits you right between the eyes. Heart Attack is their first calling card, an anthem to put up there with the likes of Munich. On it, Smith responds to the wave of sonic euphoria with some of his most direct lyrics. “No one will love you more than I do, I can promise you that”, he warns, “and when your love breaks, I’m inside you like a heart attack.”
The heavy brigade includes Kiss, a disco stomper where the act is a life-giving moment rather than a romantic one, and Strawberry Lemonade, notable for its metallic clatter. Here the caps are doffed in the direction of D.A.F. and Nitzer Ebb, though if you look behind the crushing industrial noise you will find soft-hearted chord progressions.
These are key to giving the album something nearer to light and shade. Silence, a lockdown antidote, rises to a rich guitar-laden epic, making an impassioned plea for ‘uncomplicated conversation’. Vibe, arguably the pick of the album, has the most fun. Beginning like a serrated version of Pet Shop Boys’ Domino Dancing, it has a catchy chorus to match. Karma Climb also draws on electronic royalty, pulsing with activity but with stripped back moments that recall mid-’90s Depeche Mode. The first song Power and Smith wrote together, it clatters along with a catchy chorus couplet, “If you don’t know what you’re feeling, you’ll never know, go, give it away”.
The album closes with Strange Intimacy, a freeform song whose long intro consists of a powerful beat and fidgety synthesizers, the Editors in experimental mode but not quite jumping ship into completely unscripted mayhem. Soon the vocal introduces a more sombre comedown, Smith singing, “This party is over, let the rain pour down on me”.
The darkness may surprise Editors fans, and give them a little alarm, but they should be stoked to see their heroes dodging expectations with such unrestrained vigour. How refreshing it is to see a band dodging musical pigeonholes like this, going where their hearts take them rather than conforming to what they think people want them to make.
Not all their ventures are successful, but with a final play on words it’s more Power to Editors’ elbows, for once EBM takes a firm grip on its listener it does not let them go.