Text: Paul van der Zalm
It started off with a (serious) joke, the joke grew into a well-received alternative Christmas album and now, 10 years later, a kind of debut album has appeared.
This is ‘Only Smith & Burrows Is Good Enough’, which is released today, the follow-up to 2011’s ‘Funny Looking Angels’ with the ambient Black cover ‘Wonderful life’.
It is the declaration of the long-lasting friendship between Tom Smith, the passionate frontman of the Editors, and Andy Burrows, who got famous as the drummer of Razorlight, but later also worked with Tom Odell and Ricky Gervais. The latter collaboration is especially worth mentioning, because the album breathes an atmosphere like Gervais’ Netflix series ‘After LIfe’, it is lighthearted with a serious undertone.
This makes it a far cry from the exalted festival rock of Editors, and with the festivals gone, the moment seems right to release a pop album full of unpretentiousness. A good example is ‘Buccaneer Rum Jum’, a happy summer tune with a calypso motif. But don’t assume that this album came out of the blue: ‘All The Best Moves’, one of the best songs of 2020 and a sublime earworm, was already presented live at the end of 2018 when Burrows was the support act for Editors in TivoliVredenburg (Utrecht), [or something similar for UK and FR] among other places. And the seed for the equally strong closing track ‘Straight Up Like A Mohican’ was already planted in 2011.
You seem to be able to hear their origin in almost every song, when Smith & Burrows alternate vocals. Of course, Smith is already known for his remarkable and pleasant voice, but Burrows is a very creditable singer as well. The vocal arrangements are also very well done. Producer Jacquire King gets all the credit from both men for the fact that he has managed to make a coherent whole. He has previously produced albums by Norah Jones and Kings of Leon (the album with the hits ‘Sex On FIre’ and ‘Use Somebody’) and ‘The Weight Of Your Love’ by the Editors.
During the production process with him in Nashville, they were equally inspired by the album title when they saw the slogan ‘Only A Gibson Is Good Enough’ as an advertisement for the famous guitar brand.
Back to the album: it’s obvious that the duo enjoyed making the album, even in some of the more melancholic tracks, like ‘Parliament’; Smith calls it his favourite song: “It’s a beautiful song for now, when we’re all craving connection to people and places. That song encapsulates a real, still moment.” And ‘(Memories Like) Old TV Shows’ sounds like one of those 70’s TV show tunes in George Harrison’s version. ‘Bottle Tops’ is a fairly simple song, but is still interesting for its vocals that end in a canon. In some of the songs, however, the unpretentiousness gets the better of us: ‘I Want You Back In My Life’ and ‘Too Late’ would fit perfectly in the repertoire of any boy band, so you can skip them. For the rest, this is a real ‘Feel Good’ album.