I’m not one to judge an album by its cover, but the artwork of the latest from Editors, The Weight of Your Love, is so indicative of the leaden and obvious meditations on the brutality of love you’ll find within, that it’s almost enough to skip the record before even listening to it. The Weight of Your Love is so heavy in its grand statements on the difficulties of the heart, that to endure the banality of its eleven songs is a chore and a slog in itself. Where once the members of Editors dealt solely in the post-punk murk of Interpol, they’ve tried to expand their sound by bringing in strings and the piano-based trickery usually reserved for groups like Keane and Coldplay to results that are mixed, but mostly forgettable.
In theory, it’s nice to see Editors switching it all up for their fourth album. There’s been some inter-band turmoil, resulting in bassist Chris Urbanowicz leaving the group. How integral Urbanowicz was to the band’s sound is tough to say, but there’s a major difference in the direction of their sound. Yes, they still pay a heavy debt to such icons as Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen, but there’s a “throw everything in” approach going on here when none was really needed. Editors were never going to change the world with their sound, but it was fine enough to bring about a couple of decent records. On The Weight of the World, they’ve decided to blow it all to hell.
Things start out with a sense of normality on “The Weight”, a typical Editors tune with brooding lyrics and singer Tom Smith’s deep voice. It’s a basic paint-by-numbers song from the band that is also something of a sleight of hand. You see, the next song, “Sugar”, is far more representative of what The Weight of Your Love sounds like: a kitchen sink record that is so over-the-top in its production that you can’t help but stand sort of dazed as you watch the money spent on the sound of this album bleed out of your stereo. Yes, this is a band looking to shake things up, but they do it by playing to what they’re not, instead of their strengths.
Smith has mentioned looking to R.E.M. and Arcade Fire as inspiration for this album. Those are lofty aspirations and if you’re going to go at the kings, you’d better not miss. At best, some of these tunes, like “A Ton of Love” come across as a third-rate R.E.M., but without any of the intelligence or sense of songcraft that made the band, even at its worst, an intriguing listen. As for aspiring for that Arcade Fire sound, Editors kind of make it there if you think adding strings to a schmaltz-fest like “What Is This Thing Called Love” to be what that group strives for.
The sad part is that we’re only first four songs in on The Weight of Your Love. Its middle section is bogged down by an overreliance of orchestral sounds that makes the record bleed together. There are some okay things – “Honesty” at least has a chorus your mom might like. But then there’s “Nothing”, a tune so dripping in sad-sack bullshit you can already picture the romantic comedy that’s going to use it just as our hero finally gets the girl before the credits roll.
When the album does click is when the group sticks to their wheelhouse. “Hyena” is a fine, if not derivative piece of post-punk stereotype. But, the band sounds comfortable here and it shows in the way the song moves confidently without the aid of any unnecessary production flourishes. The album’s best moment comes late with “The Phone Book”, a tune that uses Smith’s voice to do the heavy lifting with a light guitar in the background. Less is truly more on The Weight of Your Love, with this song proving you don’t need to sound big to get your point across.
Unfortunately, it’s too little too late for The Weight of Your Love. Four albums in, Editors tried to rebuild their sound, but the result is an album confused with its own identity. It’s the wrong move for a band already tentative in its approach to where it wants to go. The Weight of Your Love is too bogged down in needless atmospherics and production tricks when all it really needed were great songs that do more than reach for the cheap seats. Sure, Editors have always been a bit unoriginal, but they are better than what’s here. Instead of having a firm grip on their direction, they sound lost and confused as to what to do next.