Erasure – “The Neon”
Well, here it is. The new Erasure album. Number eighteen! Yes, album 18, since “Wonderland” debuted back in 1985 and their last, “World Be Gone”, in 2017. What strikes me about this album, on first listen, is just how little Vince and Andy have moved in 35 years. While most other artists and bands have diversified, changed and sometimes lead the way as pop music matures, Erasure have kept to a formula and with a few small steps in either direction, have stayed exactly true to their original sound.
“The Neon” is another Erasure album. That’s it and that is all we want from them. No better example can be given than the lead single and first track on the album, “Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling)”. You could be forgiven for thinking that this very day is 21st August 1985. Those familiar pop-y synths that lace and layer the soundtrack together with Andy’s reassuring and familiar voice offer comfort and solace that this IS an Erasure album, just like all the others and that time has stood still since they broke from the shell. And that continues with “Nerves Of Steel”, vaguely reminiscent of “Am I Right?”. I love to listen to every new Erasure album and match each song with at least one or two of their earlier hits. “Nerves Of Steel” is as simplistic in its production as you would expect from an Erasure song, while the video sees both drag it up again, harking back to the videos for the “ABBAesque” EP, now some twenty eight years ago.
I love the opening of “Fallen Angel”. In fact, I love where this song goes and feels. Andy’s words are heartfelt, as he states, he had been at the top of the rollercoaster, been down on an escalator and flown with wings of a “Fallen Angel”. The chorus is so addictive. This is one track to definitely return to. The Erasure beats continue with excellence on “No Point In Tripping”, faster paced, this is a rollercoaster of a song in itself. I love it when Andy hits those high notes with heart and feeling that perfectly match Vince’s programming and backing track. “Shot A Satellite” is atmospheric Erasure with some great 3D ‘plinks’ and ‘plonks’ thrown at you during its length. Dark Erasure takes over in “Tower Of Love”, with strong and profound lyrics. Andy makes it clear “Trapped in a loveless ball…get out of there, get out of there!”. That’s what you can find in the “Tower Of Love”. Techno-electro next with “Diamond Lies”, which fires shots of synth bolts left, right and centre. This is classic, retro Erasure and if that’s what you want and miss, then I suggest playing “Diamond Lies” over and over.
For the first and only time on “The Neon”, the ‘boys’ take the tempo right down with the ballad, “New Horizons”, a piano/vocal piece that’s up there with the best acoustic Erasure songs of yore. “It’s coming in, it’s gonna wash away the blues”. That’s how Erasure see new horizons. I love these moments when the duo offer something away from the box and take time to reflect and comment on just how it is. With a whisp and a flash of synth rays, “Careful What I Try To Do”, picks up where “Diamond Lies” left off. This is a gorgeous track that celebrates new love and how that special someone can pick you up off your knees, “came along at the perfect time, when I needed you”. Tells it like it is. All too soon we arrive at the final track, which is usually something special and often, the longest song on an Erasure album. “The Neon” does not disappoint with “Kid You’re Not Alone”. Epic synths and angelic vocals from Andy as he sings about “restoring our faith as we align” and “I can feel the presence of the future”. What can this possibly mean? It’s dark and it’s certainly sublime and leaves many unanswered questions…
“The Neon” is sparkling Erasure once more at their very best. A continuation of all that has gone before. It’s chapter eighteen in the ongoing story of one of our two best selling synth-pop acts. One of the two all time best selling acts and we would be very lost without them. Highlights: “Fallen Angel”, “Diamond Lies” and “No Point In Tripping”. Lowlights: None. Neonlights: All. Done.