Who’s afraid of Coldplay? Well, Jon Pareles, most famously, rightly calling their third album, 2005’s X&Y, “self-pitying” and “hokum.” In a post-“Fix You” world, it’s easy to forget that Coldplay used to be alright: A Rush of Blood to the Head is introspective and creative where X&Y is maudlin and overwrought, and a quick listen to the former is a reminder that sensitive-guy music with dramatic, overarching melodies isn’t always annoying.
Birmingham, England’s Editors released The Back Room in ’05, displaying a sound reminiscent of Joy Division; they were subsequently lumped in with the myriad other combos exploring that post-punk style, so it’s not surprising they would now redirect themselves a little. This new direction is definitely sensitive-guy-land: lead single “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors” laments that sight as “the saddest thing I’ve ever seen” over the insistent beat from Coldplay’s “Clocks.” But lead singer Tom Smith’s straightforward baritone has none of the whimpering quality of Chris Martin, and combined with the soaring guitar work, the track achieves grandeur without trickery.
Elsewhere, on tracks like “Bones,” the band returns to the propulsive uptempo of The Back Room, an “I Will Follow”-reminiscent style the band nearly owns at this point. It’s all nicely done, if not earth-shattering, and despite the favorable comparisons to Coldplay, Start sometimes slips dangerously towards cliché: “Put Your Head Towards the Air” starts off sounding uncomfortably similar to Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman,” asking, “have we learned what we set out to learn?” But the track quickly redeems itself with a gigantic drum beat, and when Smith sings the strange line “there’s people climbing out of their cars,” it’s hard not to get a little shiver. Fans of U2 and Coldplay looking for a similar band that hasn’t lost the plot will find An End Has a Start a enjoyable, and at times awe-inspiring, listen.
An End Has a Start is out Tuesday, July 17th, on Fader Label. Three tracks are currently available on iTunes here.