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Spirited from start to finish



An End Has a Start
Essential: "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors"

The buzz that followed the British band Editors from across the pond had reached a roar by the time the foursome released its archly atmospheric debut, "The Back Room," in this country. Attendant comparisons to Interpol -- another outfit worshipping at the chilly, elegant altar of Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division -- weren't always flattering, but the emotional urgency of the music was undeniable.

The band's sophomore disc, which teems with drama and dark dollops of piano that swarm beautifully around singer-guitarist Tom Smith's clarion-call voice, continues to make good on the hype while again drawing on the past. "Bones," for instance, boasts a ringing guitar riff reminiscent of U2's "I Will Follow," and Smith's shivery tenor is a thing of Ian McCulloch-esque beauty.

Both the soaring opener, "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors," and the title track set a dramatic, somber tone for an album whose themes concern human struggle and the precious bonds of community in the face of mortality. "Theses thoughts I must not think of/ Dreams I can't make sense of/ I need you to tell me it's OK," Smith sings, mantra-like, on "When Anger Shows."

Ironically, it is precisely these expressions of vulnerability, of seeking reassurance to beat back fear, that give this album its strength of spirit. [Jonathan Perry]