The Editors have always been good at evincing the sound of their idols, and 2018's grandiose, pop-infused Violence is no exception. The difference this time out is that rather than just digging deeper into a vintage '80s post-punk style a la Joy Division, here they've broadened the template, weaving in bits of early-2000s David Bowie ("Violence"), and Achtung Baby-era U2 ("Hallelujah [So Low]"). Of course, with swaggeringly moody vocalist Tom Smith at the helm, all of these tracks still sound like the Editors. Helping the band to achieve this deft balance is journeyman British guitarist and producer Leo Abrahams, who has previously worked with such similarly arty rockers as Ed Harcourt, Brian Eno, and Florence + the Machine. Working with Abrahams, the Editors have adopted a dynamic studio sheen that gives hooky cuts like the propulsively anthemic "Magazine" and the Kate Bush-meets-Peter Gabriel-sounding "Darkness at the Door" an added theatrical wallop. It's an approach that works equally well on the more vintage-leaning tracks, as on the arch "Counting Spooks" and the hooky "Nothingness," where the band draw heavily upon Giorgio Moroder's synthy dance-pop. Pleasantly, while there is an evident move toward bigger pop hooks and production on Violence, the band are clearly still interested in wrestling with timely issues and real emotions. "Hallelujah (So Low)" was purportedly written after Smith returned from an Oxfam trip to help Syrian refugees in Northern Greece. He sings "I bleed like a millionaire, cause my bones lay with dust in your care." Interestingly, they also make room for an equally timely reworking of their ballad "No Sound But the Wind," which was inspired by Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road and originally featured on the Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrack. Thankfully, the new version supplants the original, maximizing the song's visceral, emotional potential. With Violence, the Editors have crafted a big pop album on their own terms, rife with grand, operatic gestures and heat-seeking hooks that cut deep, just as they put salve on your wounds.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar