Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Music: Erasure • Union Street

Genre: Acoustic
Released: April 18, 2006
Verdict: &&&&

Synthpop stalwarts Erasure go all experimental (and arguably self-indulgent) on Union Street, replacing the customary blips, bleeps and thudding bass of their melodic pop tunes with pedal steel, dobro and acoustic bass on country/western-tinged interpretations of 11 songs from their impressive catalog. On the surface, this seems as unlikely as Britney Spears singing an album of arias, but diehards will have seen it coming in the earthier sound of 2000's underrated Loveboat and the increasing appearance of acoustic versions as b-sides and EP fodder. They've also shown signs of artistic restlessness, coming forth with a mixed-bag covers album and a solo album by vocalist Andy Bell in the recent 2000s.

The selection of arguably obscure album tracks and even a b-side on Union Street may limit the appeal to longtime fans, but anyone who enjoys an intimate, stripped-down sound could get roped in by the music and the emoting of Bell, who is unequalled among synthpop vocalists. Many of these songs are about pining for love or fulfillment, and the plaintive, twangy guitar magnifies the yearning in songs like "Boy," "Home" and "Piano Song," the 1989 Wild! album opener that works surprisingly well without the piano. It's a testament to Erasure's songwriting that these tunes fare so well outside their natural dance-pop habitat. While many of their albums are appropriate for a Saturday night soiree, this mature, charts-be-damned offering is the perfect complement to a lazy Sunday morning.

// How you know them // Erasure had three U.S. top 40 hits: "Chains of Love," #12 in 1988; "A Little Respect," #14 in 1989; and "Always," #20 in 1994.

// Linkage // Official site


Chuang Shyue Chou said...

That seem to be their only success they enjoyed in the USA which is a pity.

May I know if you have heard Andy Bell's solo album 'Electric Blue'?

And if you have, what you thought of it?

Jebb said...

Yep, Electric Blue is a good album. It does not have the trademark Erasure sound; it's more straightforward dance. There are a couple of mediocre songs that could be trimmed, but I would recommend it. Best track is "Love Oneself," a duet with Claudia Brucken. The track with Jake Shears is a little disappointing.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Indeed. 'Electric Blue' definitely does not have the trademark Erasure sound and could easily be any eurodisco album.

I like it quite a bit.

My sister heard in the background and said it was a very attractive album.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

I'm just curious. What are your Erasure favourites then?

Rank the albums?