I was in Year 10 when The Back Room came out. That means I was 15 years old, that’s almost 10 years ago. It’s unfathomable to me, it makes me feel old.
Everyone seemed to be going crazy for 4 piece indie bands at school – Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park or The Futureheads – but Editors encompassed this vintage sound of Joy Division crossed with their American brethen Interpol. There was something fresh about Editors at the time, with lyrics containing words that would only be looked up in dictionaries and the dulcet tones of Tom Smith, you silently admired anyone that enjoyed such an academic band.
MP3 players and iPods hadn’t quite taken over the teenage music scene when I bought The Back Room and listening to music on the go was still limited somewhat to bulky 1st gens. It didn’t stop me walking to school and listening to my favourite track Camera though. My walk to school took about 9 minutes, and it meant I could roll out of bed at 8 and be sat in form for half past with about 4-5 listens of the song in between. There was something serene about walking through the crowds of people at the gate or through the corridors at school whilst listening to Tom Smith. I felt like I was on TV and my life was a movie. I felt like screaming the lyrics at the top of my voice because they felt in the moment I was in, heart shatteringly overwhelming. In part, the song disappoints me, it’s a warning for something I’ve never done. Those feelings cannot be bought over the counter with an album, and so many bands fail to achieve that sensation and not through lack of trying. After 10 years of listening, I still can’t sing the lyric ‘look at us through the lens of a camera’ now without closing my eyes, tilting my head to the sky and picturing the deepest love imaginable. When he begins, Tom Smith feels as though he’s behind my head singing into my ears with dulcet tones: ‘Keep close to me now, I’ll be your guide’ and he’s often so clandestine in my imagination it means that no one else can hear or see him when he is whispering instructions for life to me.
Albums come and go. Now more than ever, the listening of a full album is diminishing so much so that people have to hashtag when they are sat listening to an album in full. When I listen to the Editors I sit and consume myself in The Back Room. I feel that Tom Smith and co. have written a recipe for existence, in a language that you can only decode through your feelings. I just close my eyes and let the album wash over me, hoping that one day when I open my eyes that Tom Smith will be behind me, where in fact I can keep close, where he is my guide and we can go into the Back Room together whilst everything around us crumbles.