Fingertips Explores the Archives: Editors - Munich
Jeremy from Fingertips joins us every Friday as he scours the betterPropaganda archives, highlighting gems buried a few years back in our database.
This week we bring you "Munich" from Editors.
All siren-like guitars and deep drive, "Munich" is an engaging puzzle. With a full-bodied bravado owing much to British forebears such as Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), vocalist Tom Smith repeats a limited number of minimalist phrases, sketching the sketchiest of stories, at the center of which is a terrific chorus that breaks one of my personal cardinal rules of songwriting: never force the singer to accent the wrong syllable for the sake of the music. And yet here's Smith singing "People are fragile things, you should know by now/Be careful what you put them through," the music forcing him to sing "fragile" unintelligibly, with equal accents on both syllables. But: so much for cardinal rules. Because of the song's resplendent atmosphere, because of Smith's engaging delivery, and, maybe most of all, because of the poignancy of the remark itself, it works. In fact I find myself half believing that the offbeat enunciation was purposeful, that to more effectively make the point he did not allow himself the vulnerability required to say what he's saying clearly. In any case, "Munich" strikes me as a sharp new take on the sort of sound some British bands (Joy Division and Ultravox too, along with Echo) were exploring back in the early '80s. Sure, you can ask: "Munich? Huh?" But to ask is to miss the point of a mystery rendered strong and true by the chiming guitars, the driving beat, the resonant lyrical fragments, and (my favorite touch) the ghostly minor seventh traced by what sounds like a synthesizer through the heart of the chorus. "Munich" is a song off the band's first CD, The Back Room, which came out in 2005 in the U.K., and in early 2006 in the U.S.
- Jeremy Schlosberg