It’s an irony that Interpol — themselves brilliant borrowers from Joy Division and Gang of Four — are now mope-rock’s reference point. Latest earnest Brit imports Editors are haunted by the I-word, and these Brummy boys are indeed heavy on the thousand-yard-stare vocals and repetitive motifs of their New York cousins. Yet with Editors — whose The Back Room debut is gold-certified back in Blighty — quality songwriting eclipses stylistic cloning; and their lonesome yet reassuring ditties are less precociously angular than their contemporaries’.
Editors’ urban alienation is warmed by Chris Urbanowicz’s balalaika-like guitar glow and Ed Lay’s deceptively booty-wiggling hi-hat. “Munich” bustles along like a figure in a snowstorm until its optimistic chorus thaws; “Blood” and “All Sparks” jitter straight from Manchester’s early-’80s dance floors; “Fall” takes the brink of despair as a new dawn, drizzled in diluted Celtic melancholy. All the while, bookish frontman Tom Smith blurs his Ian Curtis last-words detachment with Ian McCulloch’s affected, accented melodrama, and pilots his lyrics just this side of pretentiously poetic.
America is still gulping for thoughtful Anglo combos: Cinespace was a zoo and Editors could’ve sold out Spaceland the previous night twice over. And Editors deserve it: They’re more of the same, only better.