Sometimes a band just needs a change. That’s how the Editors felt before they recorded their new disc, In This Light and On This Evening. Instead of kicking out a band member or hiring a sax player, they simply stripped out most of their signature guitar sounds.
“On the last record we felt like we were ripping ourselves off,” says Ed Lay, the band’s drummer. “So we decided to change our style of writing and the first thing we could think of was to start with a new instrument. Starting with a drum machine or synth made us think differently about what we were producing.”
Lay points out that there is “quite a bit” of guitar, it’s just hidden well. That’s an understatement. The foursome have plied on the synth — Papillon’s swooshing electo sounds and big, bright keyboard chords is indicative of what’s on the entire disc. The Edge-like guitars are difficult to find.
However, singer Tom Smith is still channeling Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. His low, brooding pipes are as sharp as always, while the group’s haunting melodies are out in full force.
The group has always been considered pretty dark, but without the spiky guitars, they seem to be getting bleaker.
Lay admits the band moved even further to the dark side. “This record is a little more moody,” he says. “We are shifting away from music that’s more uplifting and just massive all the time.”
The group did have to work to develop their new, more industrial sound. Lay says that if the band hit upon something too sweet, they’d backtrack. “If something was sounding really tuneful and happy-go-lucky, we’d dirty it up. The record is meant to be very urban and gritty.”
Another change the band made was to the length of their record. The new disc has only nine songs, down one from their sophomore album and three from their debut. Once again this decision was made as a repudiation of their previous effort.
“We were critical about ourselves when we ended touring the last record,” he says. “Everything felt at the same level — the same volume, the same place. We wanted to bury that. The new songs give it a more dynamic feel. It’s quite nice to followup a rock song with a groove-based song.”
The band isn’t finished experimenting yet. Lay still wants to push the synth-based envelope further. “We haven’t discovered all the things we’ve yet to discover with this type of record,” he says. “There are more gaps with electro music that we want to get involved in.”