Sunday, June 24, 2007

Music: Light at the End of the World

• Erasure's Light shines unevenly on the veteran synth duo's 13th album.

Genres: Electronic, pop, synthpop
Released: May 22, 2007
Verdict: &&&1/2

I've never thought of any Erasure album as front-loaded — and there's a hefty stack of Erasure albums after all these years — but along comes Light at the End of the World, which takes off like a rocket to the moon but rather fizzles out in the second half. The first three cuts, singles "Sunday Girl" and "I Could Fall in Love with You" plus "Sucker for Love," sound as ABBA-ed up and musically energetic as the boys have in years, with nifty bleeps and sweeping hooks in all the right places. "Sucker," described by Vince Clarke as "up-tempo electro-gospel," ought to be a single (and not only to cement my front-loaded argument). The gentler "Storm in a Teacup," about Andy Bell's mother's alcoholism, is next, gliding by on perfectly moody synths. Erasure's pop craftsmanship doesn't pack up and leave after that track, but the rest is a bit too repetitively mid-tempo and less distinct than the opening quartet; there's no "Imagination," "Sometimes" or "Spiraling" lurking in the second half. One inspired moment in the latter half is "Glass Angel," which bears the fingerprints of Clarke's ambient work. It's worth springing for the limited edition's two bonus tracks, which are arguably better than about half the tracks on Light, a worthy successor to 2005's Nightbird but a less consistent effort than that latter-day creative peak.

•• Update 7/11 •• Upon further listening, the album's second half has grown on me, and I've bumped up the verdict by a half medal. I still strongly believe it's front-loaded, however, and I've taken to re-sequencing it to provide more balance between those first three stompers and the abundance of mid-tempo tracks. Here's how I have it (with the limited edition tracks included): Be My Baby / I Don't Know Why / Sunday Girl / Fly Away / I Could Fall in Love with You / Golden Heart / Sucker for Love / How My Eyes Adore You / Storm in a Teacup / Darlene / When a Lover Leaves You / Glass Angel


Chuang Shyue Chou said...

It does falter towards the end, meandering towards mid-tempo, sleep territory.

John Demetry said...

Hey I thought my little "capsule" review of the single would be of interest. Beautiful song!
I Could Fall In Love With You. Thanks for the good word on Erasure.