Band Review: Erasure

The first time I ever heard of the synthpop duo Erasure, which is made up of Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, was in 1988, when I heard “Chains Of Love” on my local Top 40 radio station. I remember falling in love with this song rather quickly. I also remember hearing “A Little Respect” on the radio, and deciding to purchase The Innocents, the album these songs came from.

My next memory of Erasure was hearing some of the singles from their 1989 album, Wild!, on my local Top 40 radio station’s new music show. Sadly, none of the singles from that album ever became pop hits. A few years later, when I finally heard the album for the first time, I fell instantly in love with the song “Brother And Sister.” This song really should have been a single, and I think it could have had some decent pop success.

I have some very vague memories of hearing “Love To Hate You” and “Chorus,” a couple of singles from Erasure’s 1992 album, Chorus. During that same time period, I also have memories of hearing “Take A Chance On Me” from the ABBA-esque EP. In 1994, when the I Say I Say I Say album came out, “Always” became a big hit on pop radio; “Always” is still one of my favorite Erasure songs of all-time. However, my interest in Erasure was reignited when I met the man who would later become my husband. He shared with me “Run To The Sun” and “I Love Saturday,” two additional singles that had been released from I Say, I Say, I Say; I never heard either of these songs on pop radio after “Always” had been such a big hit.

In addition to this, he also introduced me to Wonderland and Circus, Erasure’s two albums prior to The Innocents. By hearing these earlier albums, I discovered some great songs that I hadn’t known of previously, such as “Who Needs Love Like That,” “Love Is A Loser,” “Reunion,” “It Doesn’t Have To Be,” and “Sometimes.” I was also introduced to the Crackers International EP, which was released between The Innocents and Wild!Stop!” and “Knocking On Your Door” are good songs, but Erasure’s rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is definitely the standout track for that release. He also introduced me to Erasure’s b-sides and remixes.

Shortly after my husband and I started dating, Erasure released their 1995 album, which was a self-titled effort. Unlike previous albums, which consisted of pop-friendly length songs, Erasure consisted of longer “epics.” “Stay With Me,” “Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day),” “Rock Me Gently,” “Sono Luminus,” and “A Long Goodbye” are standout tracks on this album.

Erasure’s next album, Cowboy, was released in 1997, just a few months after my husband and I were married. With this album, Erasure returned to the shorter, pop-friendly sound that they were known for. “In My Arms,” “Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me,” and “Rain” were the three singles released from the album. However, to me, one of the standout tracks of this era is Erasure’s cover of the Blondie classic, “Rapture.” The song “Magic Moments” is an interesting listen, especially since it originally appeared on the soundtrack for a horror film. However, “Magic Moments” does kind of stick out like a sore thumb compared with the rest of the album. Cowboy was also the first, and last, album Erasure recorded for Madonna’s Maverick Records label.

In 2000, Erasure released an album overseas titled, Loveboat; while they were still under contract with Maverick at the time, the label refused to issue the album. The concept behind this album was that Vince and Andy wanted to record an album that could sound like they were singles from several different albums. Unfortunately, this resulted in an album that goes all over the place, and there’s really no sonic cohesion to it. “Freedom” and “Moon & The Sky,” the two singles from the album, are definitely the strongest songs on it. “Alien” is a pretty good song, too.

2003 saw Erasure release Other People’s Songs, which was a covers album. This was also the first album released under the Mute America label in the United States. The artists covered on it include Peter Gabriel, The Righteous Brothers, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly. “Solsbury Hill,” “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me),” “Everyday,” and “Video Killed The Radio Star” are the standout tracks on this release.

The next album of new material was released in 2005, which was titled Nightbird. Unlike Loveboat, this album is much more of a cohesive listen. My favorite song on the album is “Here I Go Impossible Again.” Other standout songs are “Breathe,” “Don’t Say You Love Me,” and “Sweet Surrender.”

Erasure released Light at the End of the World in 2007. In my opinion, “Sunday Girl” and “I Could Fall In Love With You” are the best songs on the album. At the time I’m writing this piece, Erasure is readying the release of their next album, Tomorrow’s World. The lead-off single, “When I Start To (Break It All Down)” had its premiere on British radio, and the song was available for streaming on the duo’s official website. I’ve heard “When I Start To (Break It All Down),” and I enjoyed it. I hope the other songs on the upcoming album are just as strong as this one.

In a lot of respects, while I haven’t enjoyed Erasure’s more recent material as much as the material they released during the 1980s and the 1990s, I still think it’s better than a lot of the music I’ve been hearing on mainstream radio.

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