Slow and steady seems to be doing the trick for Editors, who this year sent their sixth consecutive album into the UK top 10. In contrast to the boom and bust trajectory of so many indie rock bands, the Birmingham quintet have benefitted from having no single song that everyone knows, and no specific album on the list of things to hear before you die. If that means that national treasure status still looks unlikely and the O2 Arena remains out of reach, at least they’re huge in Belgium.
They weren’t obvious candidates as survivors in the beginning. Their early single Munich, with its stabs of guitar and Tom Smith’s doom-laden vocals, sounds absurdly like New York band Interpol. But their sound has diversified as they have moved forwards, still dark and chilly but incorporating futuristic synths and serious electronic firepower on this year’s Hallelujah (So Low).
For their Brixton return they kept things simple: no chit-chat, lighting of a single colour, black outfits and a backdrop featuring the dirt-caked bodies of the latest album cover. Real spectacle was lacking, though Smith gained heft as a frontman whenever he was able to put his guitar aside, wrestling with his microphone stand and urging the upstairs balcony to rise.
Violence, the new album’s title track, began like a thumping dance tune but swelled into a mighty singalong chorus. U2 would surely be envious of A Ton of Love, with its ringing guitars and anthemic feel. Nothingness, another new one, was the kind of digital gloom rock that would cause Depeche Mode to prick up their ears.
There were lulls in pace but rarely a dip in quality. That Editors have seen a tenth anniversary come and go without doing a nostalgia tour is to their immense credit. There’s surely more good stuff to come.