Sound — 7
With the release of An End Has A Start, British indie rockers Editors are back with the follow-up to their much-heralded 2005 debut, The Back Room. Clearly happy with what turned out to be a successful musical combination (think a mash-up of U2, Joy Division, and Interpol with a touch of The Killers and a dash of The Smiths), Editors hold to the somewhat beaten path and play it safe with their sophomoric effort. Sparkling lead guitars, disco-drums, and rather subdued, gloomy vocals define the album just as they did two years ago, but understandably the band is comfortable with this.
This is not to say, however, that the album doesn't have it's moments -- far from it, in fact. Tracks such as Smokers Outside Hospital Doors and The Weight Of The World bring together shimmering, piercing lead guitar, simple yet striking drums, well-placed piano, and Tom Smith's dark vocals into hauntingly beautiful tracks that really make the album. Also key to the album is a stronger emphasis on the guitar work; instead of simply acting as just another layer to the song as was often the case on The Back Room, the guitar is the more than often the focus of the track, as is the case on songs like Escape The Nest and The Racing Rats.
While I am a fan of the piercing lead guitar work that I keep referring to, An End Has A Start teeters on the edge of too much. While the songs don't necessarily blend together, after listening to album for extended periods of time you may find that the guitar-work quickly loses it's appeal and becomes almost monotonous. But then again, why change a signature sound when it has proven successful in the past?
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, An End Has A Start is superior to the Editors' debut, as is to be expected from a band with an album under their belt. Yes, the glum lyrics are still there but this time with added depth and feeling. The album largely focuses on the theme of love -- not love in the conventional way but rather lost love and the death of loved ones. Tracks such as Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors, and Bones tragically describes losing someone and never having the chance to start again and go back to the way it was. As Smith sings, In the end all you can hope for/Is the love you felt to equal the pain you've gone through. Equally touching are the slightly more optimistic tracks such as The Weight of the World in which Smith movingly sings Every little piece in your life/Will add up to one/Every little piece in your life/Will mean something to someone. The lyrics change very little throughout the album -- appropriately so as the heartrending yet beautiful nature of each song smoothly flows from track 1 to 10.
Overall Impression — 8
Editors have taken a very reserved, Coldplay-esque approach to An End Has A Start: they found what worked and stuck with it. As the saying goes, If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Rather than push their music further and experiment with new sounds, Editors relied heavily upon the tried-and-true approach to their debut album, delivering another beautiful, yet overdone album. If you were a fan of The Back Room, you are sure to love this album -- however if you are new to the band, don't be expected to be blown away. With the standard gloomy, British, indie sound, repetitive guitars, and less than exciting vocals, the album may be better suited as background music than a masterpiece. However, the gems of the album, Smokers Outside Hospital Doors, and The Weight Of The World help lift the listener past the monotony and truly define the album. So while An End Has A Start falls short of being truly great, it is a solid and powerful album. Editors have put together something that truly can only be described as tragically beautiful.