The classic synthpop outfit return with an album suggesting a more reflective outlook…
It’s surprising perhaps to realise that ‘The Erasure’ have been active for over 30 years. Clocking up such hits as ‘Sometimes’, ‘A Little Respect’, ‘Drama!’ and ‘Blue Savannah’, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell have also powered through 16 studio albums, including their last studio outing on 2014’s The Violet Flame (a retrospective box set, From Moscow To Mars, was also released in 2016). Now their 17th album has just been released in the form of World Be Gone.
As with other notable musicians from the world of synthmopop, Erasure launched their new album project via PledgeMusic, the crowdsourcing outlet that, in recent times, has done wonders for the likes of OMD and Rusty Egan among others.
The album’s lead single ‘Love You To The Sky’ arrived with a thumping percussive beat and Bell’s distinctive vocal style. There’s a more subdued arrangement at work here than Erasure tunes of old, but that perhaps reflects a more mature approach for Team Bell & Clarke who consciously wanted to take a step back from the euphoric electropop for this album.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Erasure’s career is the catalogue of the tunes that the outfit have managed to put out over the years. Vince Clarke recently commented on the decades-long songwriting partnership in a recent interview: “The only thing that has really changed is that back in the day we would almost always complete the song in one go, we would write the melodies and then work on the lyrics. Now we tend to just concentrate on the melodies, and then Andy will go away and work on the lyrics and I’ll work on the musical arrangements”.
It’s clear that the troubling political climate that’s been in vogue for the past year has also had an influence on the themes and ideas behind the new album. It’s a popular well to draw from recently (see also Depeche Mode’s Spirit and Austra’s Future Politics album).
Much of the material on World Be Gone certainly points to a more reflective (and often darker) palette than previous Erasure outings. While there’s elements of classic Erasure at work on the album, of which ‘Love You To The Sky’ is one, the new songs on the whole demonstrate that as a culture we’re currently going through perilous times.
There’s certainly a poignant quality to ‘Be Careful What You Wish For!’ with its restrained electronic moods and an evocative vocal from Bell “Stars they will collide/lovers will abide” .
Meanwhile, the album’s title track has a languid quality to it, or as Bell recently described it: “New horizons, sailing off into another world and trying not to look back with remorse”. Certainly the sobering content of the lyrics, which alludes to “illusions shattered into glass” and “broken shadows on an empty screen” is a long way from the group that gave us the dance-pop of ‘Chorus’.
A charming melody opens up ‘A Bitter Parting’, which delivers a torch song moment for the album. The slow drum refrain gives the track a more robust arrangement and there’s even a Stylophone-esque element thrown in for good measure.
There’s a much more sombre tone to ‘Still It’s Not Over’ with a contemplative mood, apparently inspired by Bell’s experiences witnessing the gay community in 1980s America. “We were fighting for survival” offers Bell reflecting on a period when people were battling not just the devastating threat of AIDS, but also an equally threatening political climate that perhaps has some chilling analogies today.
Elsewhere, the gentle tones of ‘Take Me Out Of Myself’ present a song that offers up an intimate sketch augmented with an effective use of layered vocals. The organ-like melodies that burble beneath weave in with subtle bass notes, lending the arrangement an atmospheric quality.
‘Oh What A World’ opens up with an ominous electronic drone and as a track it drips with discord and uncertainty. There’s an unsettling quality to the lyrics at times: “It’s a crazy world a million voices go unheard” but at the same time there’s a powerful quality to the message that the song’s delivering.
The album turns again to political commentary on the stark soundscape that comprises ‘Lousy Sum Of Nothing’. There’s a wealth of melancholic electronic melodic elements on a track that suggests we’re living in “a world that’s lost its loving”.
The final track ‘Just a Little Love’, however, offers a beacon of hope in these uncertain times. Its certainly a much more uptempo number than its predecessors with its clarion call suggesting a more positive antidote to this “crazy world”. There’s some charming little arpeggios at work here for a song that’s clearly aiming towards the pop-orientated Erasure of old.
The end result is a much more sober Erasure album that’s born of its time. World Be Gone also demonstrates a more mature approach for a group that’s been writing and recording tunes for over 30 years. Older and perhaps wiser is the phrase that could well apply here.
World Be Gone is out now on Mute.
Erasure will be touring the UK and Europe later this year. UK dates as follows:
27th May – Glasgow, O2 Academy [SOLD OUT], 28th Manchester, Albert Hall [SOLD OUT], 29th – London, Roundhouse [SOLD OUT].
Erasure will be also be appearing as special guests on Robbie Williams’ 2017 tour with confirmed dates as follows. More details via: http://www.robbiewilliams.com
2nd – Manchester Ethiad Stadium, 3rd – Manchester Ethiad Stadium, 6th – Southampton St Mary’s Stadium, 9th – Edinburgh, BT Murrayfield Stadium, 13th – Coventry, Riccoh Stadium, 17th – Dublin, Aviva Stadium, 21st – Cardiff, Principlality Stadium, 23rd – London, The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.