Joy Division was one of the most respected bands in the history of music. They had an original sound and a distinctive feel all their own. Ian Curtis could command the room with his voice and you could clearly see that, even early in their career, he was not comfortable being in front. Looking back you can see why they would be so influential on music today. I bring this up because the two bands that sound the most like Joy Division, INTERPOL and THE EDITORS, have both released new records which are great examples of the divergent paths bands take with their influences.
Now I've only taken a cursory listen to each album (Interpol's "Our Love To Admire" and The Editors "An End Has A Start") but my initial reaction is to prefer the Editors record. This is probably blasphemy in some circles because Interpol is looked upon as one of the new musical heavyweights and their record has received almost universal acclaim. But The Editors last record, "The Back Room", was a pleasant suprise and seemed to always creep onto playlists with regularity. I also must admit that Interpol's last record, "Antics", left me lacking in interest, I felt they had hit a rut and were starting to repeat themselves. So I took on the Editors record first.
What I liked about The Editors' album was it took the bands fomula and broadened it without sacrificing their sound. Lead Singer Tom Smith sounds more like Curtis then Interpol's Paul Banks. His voice is a little deeper and richer. The single "Smoker's Outside the Hospital Doors" has a nice magestic quality to the music and the next three tracks are all blistering anthems that will play well live. The middle section has some quieter moments then it picks up at the end with the brilliant "Escape the Nest".
Interpol's latest is supposed to be a departure from their formula. Although not a radical change there are some touches of newness that make it interesting. "Pioneer To The Falls" is about the most depressing song I have heard in a while. (Death and coping with loss are both common themes for both bands, something they seemed to have inherited from Joy Division as well). I didn't really care for the single "The Heinreich Manuever" (maybe with more listens it will grow on me as other Interpol songs have) but I did find "No I in Threesome" and "All Fired Up" to be the kind of slightly off kilter rock I have enjoyed from them in the past. I did find the Interpol record a more challenging listen whereas the Editors went down a lot smoother the first time around. It's certainly possible that with time I will bore of the Editors and gravitate to the Interpol record.
This is essentially the problem. These records (and, by extention, bands) are interchangeable. They have very little that distinguishes them from each other so it really comes down to which gets a higher profile (my bet is Interpol) and more tour support. I guess when it comes down to it I could just go back and listen to Joy Divison instead.
(mp3) The Editors -- Bones
(mp3) Interpol -- All Fired Up