Five albums into their career, Britain's post-punk stalwarts Editors dig deep for a cohesive set of sophisticated, nuanced songs rife with a hard-won maturity, which still retain all of the intense emotionality of their debut. Though Editors have experimented with their sound in the past, 2015's In Dream is the group's most well-rounded album to date, combining the best stylistic elements of each of their previous efforts. Here, we get the driving, angular guitars of 2005's The Back Room, next to the chilly synths of 2009's In This Light and on This Evening, all wrapped up in the expansive, church-studio production sound of 2013's The Weight of Your Love. As always, burning at the center of these icy, monochrome anthems is vocalist Tom Smith's closed-eyes, pyrrhic, baritone croon. Smith, who has drawn easy comparisons to Joy Division's Ian Curtis, has matured into an assured, commanding singer, and Curtis is but one touchstone, along with Nick Cave, Neil Diamond, and Elton John, all of whom inform the music on In Dream. In fact, the ebullient, classically inflected sophisti-pop of "All the Kings" wouldn't sound out of place on an Annie Lennox album. Musically, while the dark, '80s alt-rock influences remain, the group's work has grown richer, and In Dream is much more than an exercise in style. This is an album of highly compositional, slow-burn epics that build with Kubrick-ian intensity and attention to detail. Cuts like opening "No Harm," with its circular keyboard pattern laying the groundwork for Smith's slow, off-kilter vocals, and "Salvation," with its piercing orchestral intro building palpable harmonic tension near its ending choruses, full of bashing catharsis and symphonic desire. And while there is a spareness to the arrangements on In Dream that reads, at first, as arch in tone, tracks like "Ocean of Night," with its sparkling piano and thumping bass drum and "Our Love," with its pulsing, Giorgio Moroder-esque beat, find the group reworking disco and house music elements in unexpected ways. Also adding to the richness of the album is Slowdive's Rachel Goswell who lends her angelic voice to several tracks. Although In Dream is neither a dance record, nor a cerebral art-rock album, by borrowing elements from both, Editors have crafted something grandiose and utterly transfixing. As Smith sings on the epic ending cut, "Marching Orders," "These are our marching orders/These are the rules that we break/These are the doubts we cling to/Tryin' to give more..."
(Digital Download - #PIASDIGITAL611)
Review by Matt Collar