With an experimental sound, brooding vocals and a “fuck the masses” demeanor, Joy Division pioneered the post-punk movement. Tragic vocalist Ian Curtis’s disregard for stereotypical, superficial emotions shifted punk’s emphasis toward morose and haunting themes of isolation and depression. For the first time, a musician’s raw emotion was exposed through tortured vocals. Surprisingly enough, these sorrows resonated with listeners. Can today’s punk rock bands claim to have a remotely comparable effect on listeners?
In This Light And on This Evening
Perhaps, but British punk-rockers Editors cannot.
Though Editors’s lead singer Tom Smith’s gruff voice has invited countless comparisons to Curtis, the similarities stop there. Unlike Joy Division’s innovative themes and sounds, Editors’s latest album, In This Light and On This Evening, is a lazy, cliché-riddled venture. Its use of outdated ’80s synthesizers and generic themes of God and war comes off as a clunky, overworked experiment in foreign new-wave territory.
The band’s third effort, In This Light, marks a new chapter for the group. With its latest album, Editors loses the mainstream, hook-heavy approach of tracks like “Munich” and “Bullets” that propelled the group to indie-punk stardom. The album’s reliance on passé electro-guitar riffs serves as a backdrop for the running theme of chaos and loneliness prevalent in London, but it comes off as a mediocre lo-fi endeavor.
While bands like Bloc Party and Interpol have channeled Joy Division to create a more admirable dark tension and moodiness in their records via electronic synths and a modern flair, In This Light feels stuck in a past life that’s almost certainly dead on arrival.
Beginning with the title track, an eerie backdrop of synths is subdued by Smith’s overpowering, wallowing vocals. His voice creeps up through waves of pulsing synthesized sound, creating a tone so overly dramatic it’s almost laughable. Smith’s continuous chants of “I swear to God” meander as he discusses the beauty of London over a fuzzy base of guitars and grating code beeps. The track, coarsely muddling along for four minutes, sounds like something on a bad ’80s mixtape. Now would be the time to start forgetting those Joy Division similarities.
Single release “Papillion” is the one shining beacon of light found on the album — that is, if you’re into self-pitying, throwback ’80s pop outfits. The track’s dark disco vibe comes with a hefty dance beat. The trendy, drum machine-infused sound is in stark contrast to the rawer, stripped-down noise found on previous albums The Back Door and An End has a Start.
With In This Light and On This Evening, Editors gives in to the lo-fi culture dominating today’s indie-punk scene. On tracks like “Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool,” Editors tries to reinvent its sound through experimental riffs and an infectious chorus, but it ultimately falls flat with its generic electro-vibe. If Editors’s new album has taught us anything, it’s that Joy Division’s beautifully brooding vocals cannot be duplicated.