The Portland quartet Genders has burst back to life with the captivating and atmospheric new record “Phone Home.”
Early on, Editors, the Stafford-based quintet, had a bit of a reputation for watering down the post-punk roots from which it spawned. As the group grew and continued to produce albums, its sound got a little tighter and moved more toward an alt-rock sound. In Dream, the group’s newest release, finds them more at home in this sound, exploring space and nuance in a way that is a noticeable departure from the early work.
Over the years, the synth has gradually replaced the guitar as the backbone instrumentation, and it has helped Editors take a slightly more exploratory approach to the music. In Dream works because it deploys restraint, focusing more on crafting tracks with definitive elements and strong instrumentals. Although not the album’s lead single, “Forgiveness” could be described as the most concise and earwormy track. Its relatively simple droning undertones and catchy chorus mark the first real standout moments. Still, with each track running nearly five minutes, the album can at times seem long on filler and short on fodder. Tracks like “Life is a Fear” and “Our Love” at times feel lost in the shuffle, lacking the vigor necessary to buoy a tone that can be a bit morose.
However, despite the occasional dud, other strong moments appear, such as “Marching Orders,” a nearly 8-minute behemoth that comes in as a kind of alt-rock soundscape. “Marching Orders” is tightly wound and clean. It moves with fluidity and a strong sense of dynamics. Driven largely by basso piano chords, it finds a natural depth that is amplified by the tasteful rise and fall of the synth line and echoing drum track.
“No Harm,” the album opener, is a compelling and understated track. With soft vocals and a light synth ostinato, it works as a statement of purpose: In Dream is progressive; it is mature; it is subdued and under control. For Editors lifers, “No Harm” might be a statement of the opposite nature, but make no mistake, In Dream is the sound of a group working hard to take the next steps and find a musical space that allows for a continual evolution. From a genre perspective, In Dream evades categorizing. In today’s music scene, the blending of influences and sounds has become standard practice, and for a group like Editors, existence in this world depends on its ability to adapt. Consider In Dream a major step forward in that process. »
– Charles Trowbridge