CD Review of An End Has a Start by Editors

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An End Has a Start
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Epic/Kitchenware/Fader
Released: 2007
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It would have been fascinating if someone had started filming a documentary on the lives of the latest wave of UK bands, “7 Up”-style. The possibilities surely seemed endless when they all released their debut albums, but in the years since the debut and each bands’ sophomore efforts, a pecking order, like it or not, had established itself. Before you know it, Franz Ferdinand is picking the Futureheads last in gym class, Hard-Fi is the guy you don’t leave alone with your girlfriend at the disco, and the Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party, once best mates, now travel in different cliques and never speak to each other.

Which brings us to Editors (no “the” in front, if you please), who are the shy but incredibly well-spoken bookworm that may not have the most friends but is arguably the most grounded of the bunch. Their new album, An End Has a Start, is even grander than their debut, which is saying something because The Back Room was pretty damn grand. The band’s influences, however, still loom large over the proceedings, and while there are moments of brilliance, those moments cannot help but remind you of some other band’s moments of brilliance.

The most noticeable difference between this album and the last is that singer Tom Smith has clearly filled out his lyric book. Many of the songs on The Back Room were as lyrically sparse as Teenage Fanclub’s “What You Do to Me,” but that is not the case here. Heck, the pre-chorus to the pounding “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors” contains more words than “Bullets.” (It also contains the drum line from “Bullets,” curiously.) Smith hasn’t lost his way with a one-liner either, as the title track will attest (“You came on your own / That’s how you’ll leave”). Smith’s voice also has mellowed some, losing the nasal Stipeishness that made some songs less agreeable than others.

So yes, the band has improved in every conceivable way, yet An End Has a Start is off somehow. Is it the overbearing earnestness? Is it the shadow of Echo & the Bunnymen looming over everything from the music to the group photo in the liner notes? (Owners of Songs to Learn and Sing will spot the similarity in an instant.) True, the music is perfectly good, but it’s also difficult to get excited about.

When it comes time to filming the “28 Up” portion of our imaginary UK band documentary, Editors will be the bloke that started his own dentistry, invested his money well, and lives a modest life in the suburbs. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. So what if their music doesn’t change anyone’s life or tear the roof off of your next mixer? Editors simply don’t play that way. Rather, they’re the ones holding your hair while you puke in a bucket shortly after the Arctic Monkeys slipped you a mickey. Everyone needs a friend like that, don’t they?

~David Medsker