Erasure – Nightbird (CD)

I always found myself getting into synnth-pop, but never Erasure. I only had one of Erasure’s albums, though – 1991’s Chorus on tape, meaning that I never really listened to it. “No Doubt” is an interesting choice to start off this disc, as the atmosphere still retains that late eighties/early nineties mall quality to it, as well as a slight tinge of depression put on the synths, a fact that is combated by the more-uptempo dance-track “Here I Go Impossible Again”. What impresses me about “Impossible” is the lack of vocal augmentation and pitch-shifting on the track – the only thing that Andy has to back and accentuate eir vocals are the typical synth line and drumbeat. However, and this is a big however, the skill in which the synth and drum-kit are arranged on “Impossible” are tear-jerkingly beautiful. This is a dance track, but it doesn’t have to be uninspired – something that Erasure successfully shows their listener base with “Nightbird”. The same heavenly and grandiose themes, as well as some of the horns (placed on the periphery) on “Let’s Take One More Rocket to the Moon” are reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys’ magnificent 1993 album, “Very”.

“Breathe” was the first single cut for the British market, and the simplistic synth-lines on the track allow Andy to properly soar, using some of the same vocal accentuations that well prevalent in the disco period to fuel this very contemporary dance track. The spastic back-beat of “I’ll Be There” throws another (good) kink into the mix, struggling with Andy’s vocals to establish dominance on the track. Note, however that the track doesn’t suffer from this struggle but rather pushes it into the stratosphere as Andy’s vocals absolutely have to be perfect to compare to instrumentation. “I’ll Be There” is a DDR-worthy track.

The subtle interplay that the double-vocals of “Because Out Love Is Real” is yet another finesse to the disc that shows exactly how timeless this album will be. Erasure, twenty years after they have started have been able to create a synthy, danceable album that is not mostly chaff – each of the tracks on “Nightbird” would be able to stand on its own as a single, which is virtually unheard of in the genre. Perhaps it is just being products of another era, but Erasure with “Nightbird” point forward to a promised land of synth-pop and dance commingling, with a track like “Don’t Say You Love Me” feeding off the fuzz that makes bands such as Postal Service such the current rage.

Top Track: Here I Go Impossible Again, Don’t Say You Love Me

Rating: 7.6/10

Erasure – Nightbird / 2005 Mute / 11 Tracks / http://www.mute.com / Reviewed 13 February 2005

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