Sunday, 7 July 2013

This Week - Editors and Palms

Editors' fourth album, and first after the departure of guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, is a definite shift towards a more commercial, accessible sound, while trying to keep the band's identity. They tried this with previous album In This Light and On This Evening, working with producer Flood, ultimately ending in a mixed, slightly confused, and flat, collection of songs. But with The Weight Of Your Love, they sound more energised, and singer Tom Smith is magnificent throughout, even providing a delicious range on big emotional ballad What Is This Thing Called Love. Prior to this, The Weight is a great scene-setting, self-referential opener (Smith declaring ironically that he will try not to talk about death, against a deliberately moody backdrop) but it is the instant highlight A Ton Of Love stealing the show - a solid pop/rock anthem with an attention-grabbing chorus. Honesty comes a close second; exquisitely arranged, before a perfect blend of vocals and strings on the wonderful Nothing. The last third of The Weight Of Your Love loses the early momentum with the awkward politically-aware Hyena and the listless Two Hearted Spider but closers The Phone Book and Bird Of Prey provide a spirited, if downbeat, finale. Editors still have far to go to reach great heights but The Weight Of Your Love is moving them in the right direction - led by Smith's baritone, some superb arrangements and excellent song writing.

When Isis split in 2010, a new band was always going to rise from the ashes - the band were just too good for the ex-members to disappear without trace. Bassist Caxide, drummer Harris and guitar/keyboard maestro Meyer teamed up with Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno to form Palms - an unlikely but intriguing combination. The eponymous album is six songs of 'Isis'-like trademark post-rock with Moreno adding his voice 'as another instrument'. The two halves meet in the middle, rather than sounding like an 'old' band with a 'new' singer, to create something different and unique. Granted, this is more Isis than Deftones, in terms of mood and atmosphere. The ten-minute centrepiece Mission Sunset drifts from delicate sound-scape to huge emotional epic within the first four minutes, the guitars and drums magnificent throughout. Shifts of tempo and texture create several songs in one into the second half before a swathe of crashing drums and guitars bring Moreno back for more pained vocals. This leads into the album high point, the near seven-minute Shortwave Radio, filled with big haunting guitars, supreme bass, and Moreno's best vocal performance. Plenty of echo in the cleaner moments compliment the chaotic swamp when the band collide, all with excellent production. Opener Future Warrior is a compelling quiet/loud introduction to the project with a great vocal centre while Patagonia is more controlled and ethereal. And the final duo provide the pleasant Tropics followed by the elegantly crafted Antarctic Handshake building through nine minutes from psychedelic ambience through crashing guitars to a fuzzy electronic close. Palms is a wonderful collaboration that has produced a rich and textured album of depth and hidden complexity. Hopefully, it won't be a once only side-project.

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