To download a free MP3 of Editors' "An End Has a Start" click here.
Tom Smith may have met the other members of Editors while studying music theory at university four years ago but his actual education came much earlier, when as a teenager he listened nonstop to the two albums that set the Britpop movement aflame--Oasis' Definitely Maybe and Blur's Parklife. "Suddenly, all I wanted to do was be in a band," Smith says. "I learned to play the guitar by playing those records."
While Editors music clearly comes from a darker, more windswept place--think Joy Division operating on U2's stadium budget--the power of a devastating pop chorus wasn't lost on the singer and Gibson ES-335 aficionado. As a result, his band's doom-wracked 2005 debut, The Back Room, stormed the British charts at No. 2, went platinum and earned a nomination for the Mercury Prize. Its even bleaker follow-up, An End Has A Start, meanwhile, came out in June and went straight in at No. 1.
It's not often that a record so mired in fear, paranoia, and thoughts of imminent demise can elbow the Justin Timberlakes and Beyonces of the world out of the way to grab the public's attention on such a large scale. But Smith isn't all that surprised. "We like big music," he says. "We like melody. Yeah, in places our music is sparse and spiky and challenging but if you push that away, the songs give you a rush. You can hear the chorus from outer space."
An End Has a Start begins with a song about cancer patients sneaking out of their deathbeds for a quick vice (“Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors”) and ends with another inspired by an old school friend of Smith’s who was beaten to death because he was gay (“Well Worn Hand”). In between, Smith--who is joined in the band by guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, bassist Russell Leetch, and drummer Ed Lay--delves deep into his psyche, offering up a song cycle that's as much about urban alienation as personal frailty to a distinctly gothic soundtrack. But it’s not all storm clouds.
Get past that intensely brooding voice, the barrage of minor chords, and ominous song titles like “The Racing Rats” (sample lyrics: “Standing at the edge of your town with the skyline in your eyes/ Reaching up to God, the sun says its goodbyes”), and you’ll discover something big. Smith insists, “Great music to me is about passion and honesty.”
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