Following “Magazine” last month, Editors is back with their second single ahead of their forthcoming album, Violence. “Hallelujah (So Low)” is an intense and dynamic song that introduces fans to a whole new side of Editors. The song starts with strummed acoustic guitar over a drum machine, frontman Tom Smith singing about his worth compared to that of a millionaire. String-sounding synths add texture before it moves into a stunning pre-chorus. Operatic vocals are offset by a spoken refrain of “I got lucky this time in the hunt for atonement”. Then the song then dives into its blasting instrumental chorus. “Hallelujah (So Low)” is an intense song that combines Editors’ rock and electronic sensibilities perfectly.
In a new interview with Billboard, Tom explained the inspiration behind “Hallelujah (So Low)”:
I wrote the words to “Hallelujah (So Low)” when I got back from a trip with Oxfam, visiting refugee camps in Northern Greece. It was obviously an incredibly moving trip, seeing people living in dust, surviving only on the help of others was very moving.
Musically the track hung on the relationship between the acoustic guitar and the drum machine that was part of the track from my demo. It had something special very early on. Then when Justin [Lockey] came up with his outrageous guitar riff we knew we had a winner. It’s the most “rock” we’ve ever been and it’s exhilarating. I think the video attempts to capture this intensity, both in the track and in us as a live band.
Rahi Rezvani directed the song’s music video. It’s fairly straightforward, focused on the band’s energy more than a linear story. Each of the band members is dressed in all black (except Tom, who dons a white shirt), and we see them performing against plain black or white backgrounds. However, the rain at the beginning and end adds a nice touch in the song’s calmer moments.
Watch the music video for “Hallelujah (So Low)” below:
In addition to speaking about “Hallelujah (So Low),” Tom Smith told Billboard about the other songs on Violence. “Magazine” and “No Sound But The Wind” both came from the “vault,” as he put it. The band first wrote “Magazine” for their fourth album, The Weight Of Your Love, back when Chris Urbanowicz was still in the band. Once he’d left and the two new members joined, they never finished the song. However, now felt like the right time, given how relevant the lyrics are. Tom explained further:
Every now and again, when I’m in my initial stages of songwriting, I’ll go through periods where things will just come and two or three songs might get written in a week or two, and then I could sit here for like a month and nothing will happen, and it’s in those moments where I might look back at what I have and what I’ve not used yet. “Magazine” came out of the shadows, and I had a little bit of a “Eureka!” moment with the chorus and changed it slightly but not lyrically… It’s funny how songs jump out of the past and survive sometimes, and it did feel kind of relevant.
Editors first performed “No Sound But The Wind” in 2008, but in spite of live and demo versions being released over the years, the band felt it was time to give it a proper recording. As Tom described,
The song was never actually put down as a band, so we felt that the record needed a moment of calm, should we say? A moment of reflection. And “No Sound But The Wind,” it’s this kind of like father singing to his son about that kind of protection of innocence. In the book The Road, it’s obviously a post apocalyptic kind of land but in my song it’s more of just, you know, protection of innocence of like “Why the world…?” It felt like a relevant connection with the rest of these songs I had written.
The in-depth interview also dove into how Violence as a record came about. Tom talked about recording the album at a studio in Oxford, then allowing an artist called Blanck Mass to rework it. He worked on the songs and ended up with new versions of them. As Tom explained,
We got to the point then where we had two albums; we had this album we had done in Oxford and you have like the alternative kind of “Blanck Mass” version of the record. Then we needed some more help, and we got a guy called Leo Abrahams, a producer to come in and help fuse these things together and find the right balance.
I think it’s a combination of all those things. As a band we’ve flip-flopped over the years between making more guitar-oriented records and then doing things with more electronics. We’ve flip flopped and gone backwards and forwards a little bit. This record we have now, it seems to be the first time we’ve managed to fuse the two elements together in a way that felt fresh, in a way that we haven’t done before, and that is down to Blanck Mass and the way that he uses electronic-influenced sounds. […]
So I think that was a big part of it, and I think when Leo became involved…he’d heard both of these records and it was his opinion that we had to maintain, obviously not lose what the band is because if you go too far down the Blanck Mass road it could be too neurotic, but it was important to him that the band always comes from an emotional place and to use the elements of Blanck Mass’s stuff in a way that gives it a freshness and makes it exciting. It had that brutality at times, but then also, other times the band and the words and the band’s melodies speak for themselves. I think it was outside influence that helped us find the balance that we haven’t found before.
The interviews goes into tons of detail about Violence, how Editors writes and records, and their upcoming touring plans. For more, be sure to read the full Billboard interview here.
You can download “Hallelujah (So Low)” from iTunes or stream it on Spotify now. You can also pre-order Violence on iTunes or the official Editors store. Check out the CD boxset if you want the two bonus tracks!
Violence comes out in just a few weeks on March 9th. Enjoy “Hallelujah (So Low)” and “Magazine” for now, and keep checking back here for all the latest Editors music news.