After Editors slathered their usual post-punk indie rock with synths on their last record, and then lost their lead guitarist to disagreements about ‘future musical direction’, it comes as a surprise that the biggest and gloomiest Brummie band of the noughties have dialled down the electronics on their fourth album. Sadly, that’s pretty much the most exciting thing about ‘The Weight of Your Love’, a record whose defining quality is being very difficult to care about.
Even more so than on their first three albums, it sounds like Editors have had Echo And The Bunnymen on repeat between studio sessions. Heavy use of a string section means that ‘The Weight of Your Love’ isn’t a million miles from ‘Porcupine’ and ‘Ocean Rain’, the two orchestral albums the Bunnymen made in the early ’80s. The difference is that whereas the strings on ‘Ocean Rain’ in particular were gloriously fluid and buzzing with life, the arrangements on ‘The Weight of Your Love’ are about as soupy and sterile as formaldehyde. Which, incidentally, is the name of track seven.
In fact, Editors seem intent on shooting themselves in the foot with their song titles. ‘Nothing’ is a five-minute strings-and-vocals affair that goes nowhere, and ‘The Phone Book’ is exactly as interesting as it sounds. ‘Honesty’, ironically, is thoroughly disingenuous – that and ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’ (more Coldplay than Cole Porter, with an awkward falsetto vocal) are enormous songs with empty hearts, sounding custom-built for stadiums, festivals and TV synchs.
The lyrics don’t help, either. On track one, ‘The Weight’, Tom Smith self-consciously tells himself off for singing about death, then calls himself ‘a lump of meat with a heartbeat’. ‘Two Hearted Spider’ starts promisingly, like some of the stronger material from Editors’ second album, then nosedives by toe-curlingly quoting the chorus from The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’.
So thank heaven for ‘A Ton of Love’, the album’s first single, and its only real high point. Built on a bouncing bassline and a twanging riff that apes (obviously) Echo And The Bunnymen, ‘A Ton of Love’ rises to an awesome peak that recalls U2 at their most wide-eyed and least preachy. There’s what sounds like a saxophone, and a thrusting, crunchy guitar, and it all works brilliantly.
That aside, there’s only one track here worth handing over money for: ‘Sugar’, a thick, fuzzy, stalking number graced by some delicate, skeletal guitar work. Weirdly, though, the churning bassline is almost identical to the bass part on ‘Strife’ by Savages. It’s a coincidence, of course (‘The Weight of Your Love’ and Savages’ ferocious debut album ‘Silence Yourself’ were recorded simultaneously), but it says a lot about what Editors aren’t. There’s hardly a spark here of the vital, gut-punching energy that once, briefly, made Editors an exciting prospect. One and a half golden tracks notwithstanding, all that’s left is a ton of crud. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.
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