British group Editors combine rich elements of post-punk and alternative to create a polished sound ripe for radio placement. With a Mercury Prize nomination for 2005 debut The Back Room and a slew of top 10 singles, Editors have built a nice following, having already been around for almost a decade now. They emerged right around a period of post-punk revivalism in the early ’00s, with groups like Interpol successfully borrowing from the moody post-punk likes of Joy Division and The Chameleons UK. Editors have usually waded between Interpol’s post-punk ambition and Snow Patrol’s radio-friendly alternative, though since The Back Room have struggled to find a consistent stylistic vision. On their fourth album, The Weight of Your Love, Editors continue to seek their trademark sound with mixed results, their greatest efforts often lending comparisons to the post-punk side of things.
Despite the hiccups to follow, The Weight of Your Love gets off on proper footing. The second track, “Sugar”, packs a chorus akin to Interpol’s sound on Antics. The Interpol comparisons are also present on “Hyena”, with a similar post-punk snarl mixing with polished pop-rock sophistication. As much as Editors probably tire of the Interpol comparisons, it’s no coincidence that the best tracks on The Weight of Your Love are often fit for comparison. Editors struggle on the release with whether to pursue overwrought ballads or infectious Interpol-like post-punk odes, and although the latter are considerably more appealing it’s difficult to stray in a band’s shadow. There are several successful attempts to gravitate toward their own sound, though. “A Ton of Love” resembles a ‘60s rock power anthem, from a shimmering post-punk group like The Go-Between or Lloyd Cole. The chorus is straightforward in its effervescent guitar bursts and repetition of “desire!”, but is nicely executed despite its obvious influences and slightly monotonous occasions, the latter more frequent here than on the more exciting “Sugar”. More use of the brass toward the song’s conclusion may have been beneficial.
The mid-section of The Weight of Your Love is stymied but several dull ballads with questionable songwriting choices. “What Is This Thing Called Love” is marked by an awkward high-pitched delivery that sluggishly projects over a mundane piano progression, building predictably toward a chorus that only minimally reaches the anthemic heights it aspires to. Editors are clearly attempting some sort of Coldplay or Snow Patrol radio anthem with “What Is This Thing Called Love”, but a forced vocal lead and dull arrangements prevent it from even deserving more than a few spins. “Honesty” makes significantly superior use of strings, with stirring arrangements bolstered by a lively chorus that reminds of a subdued Killers radio hit. The synth-rock additives are a nice touch, and incorporated with tightly distorted guitars and strings it makes for a wholly memorable and colorful sound.
More strings feature on “Nothing”, gentler than previous efforts and a pure accompaniment to the most ballad-ready vocal performances on the album. As the strings build up toward a sequence that reminds slightly of Bruce Springsteen’s “Philadelphia”, Tom Smith’s vocals stays true to the minimalist subtleties that start out the track. It’s hard to distinguish any hooks here, despite there being an enjoyably tranquil flow throughout. As the title suggests, there is mostly nothing on “Nothing” worth coming back to, much like the large abscess that is “What Is This Thing Called Love”.
By the time Editors return to their punchier rock roots with “Formaldehyde”, the flow of The Weight of Your Love has already suffered with slower efforts in “What Is This Thing Called Love” and “Nothing” that are largely devoid of hooks and creativity. Fortunately with “Formaldehyde” and “Hyena” they return to more respectable territory. The creaky psych-folk on “The Phone Book” is also catching, a rare glimpse of stylistic innovation on album that plays it safe by most standards. Perhaps one day Editors will release an album with more focus, where the Interpol comparisons of “Sugar” and the synth-rock excitement of “Honesty” mesh gracefully with the peaks of stylistic creativity displayed on efforts like “The Phone Book”. For now, most fans will perceive The Weight of Your Love as a mixed bag, with only glimpses of hook-laden potential among bland and uninspiring templates.