In Dream, Editors fifth studio album, is a striking departure from the sounds of their first two albums, but builds upon the synth driven foundations of In This Light And On This Evening. The band have succeeded in providing listeners with a unique set of songs that reflect their new musical style and philosophy. Parts of the album feel repetitive, but given their previous experimentation with electronic sounds, the transition from old to new is generally a smooth one, and there are enough glimpses of brilliance to show that the gamble has largely paid off.
Tom Smith’s vocals suit the album well, varying from soft and deep to higher-pitched and almost shouted. He, along with guest singer Rachel Goswell, excel on the spectacular ‘Ocean of Night’, which starts as a gentle mid-tempo piano song, but the contrast of the gentle the bass guitar and tambourine with the pure power of the synthesisers, drums and lead guitar leads to a fresh and memorable tune. It takes a number of listens to appreciate the depth of this song, and it is one of the success stories of this album.
‘Life is A Fear’ brings successfully brings together the band’s traditional indie rock and their new dark brand of synthpop, the result of which is both scary and exciting. The track feels very 80’s inspired, driven by eerie synth sounds and guitar taking more of a cameo role, and is tied together by the ominous hook line of “Life is a fear of falling through all the cracks.” ‘All the Kings’ is a guitar free and more upbeat track, and subtlety incorporates orchestral instrumentation, whereas in ‘Forgiveness’, the bass and lead guitar feature more heavily, leading to more of a standard Editors track.
However, the main flaw with the album is its length. While there are only ten songs, the album runs for over 50 minutes and you get the feeling that many of the songs on In Dream last a lot longer than they ought to. ‘Marching Orders’, the album’s second single, gently builds up to become a solid closing track, but takes longer than it should to get to this stage, and the three and a half minute long outro involving repetition of the lyric “Trying to get more” becomes rather boring after a while. Elsewhere, songs such as ‘At All Cost’ and the opening track ‘No Harm’ just don’t get going at all, adding no substance to the album and simply padding it out. You can see that the band are trying to create more ambient and subdued songs, but a number of songs on In Dream are monotonous and don’t engage the listener’s attention in the same way that their earlier works did.
In spite of the album’s length and a few empty tracks, this is a competent album that sees the band creating gentle and balanced songs, as well as striking and stirring darkwave tracks. Not everything works in this album, but it is important to admire the band’s desire to create a truly new album, rather than a carbon copy of The Back Room. In addition, while this is the sound of a band in transition, thanks largely to lead singer Tom Smith, this still very much feels like an Editors album.