Erasure – The Neon (Album Review)

Erasure – The Neon (Album Review)

Hands down, Erasure remains one of the most popular, successful, and prolific purveyors in the annals of Synthpop music. With a 35-year career and 18 studio albums to boot, the indomitable duo of Vince Clarke (synthesizers) and Andy Bell (vocals) certainly belongs to the pantheon of Pop greats.

Formed in 1985, in London, England, Erasure unleashed its first record, Wonderland, in the year that followed, immediately garnering a chart topper in “Who Needs Love like That?” What ensued was a number of breakthrough albums, particularly 1988’s The Innocents and 1994’s I Say I Say I Say—and a string of massive, classic singles like “A Little Respect,” “Chains of Love,” and “Always.”

Only in the previous decade, Erasure mustered four albums—2011’s Tomorrow’s End to 2017’s World Be Gone. And now, three years fresh from the success of the last record, Clarke and Bell are out again with another powerhouse gem. A quick follow-up to 2018’s World Beyond, the orchestral treatment of World Be Gone, on Friday, August 21, 2020, Erasure return with the brand new album The Neon.

Released via Mute Records and consisting of ten new brand new songs, it starts with its lead single, “Hey Now (Think I Got a Feeling),” which carries the unmistakable, melodic and shiny Pop sound of the duo. Following next is “Nerves of Steel”—slower, moody, and a bit somber. One of The Neon’s more memorable tracks, “Fallen Angel,” whose chorus is so infectious, is worthy of repeat mode.

Then there is “No Point in Tripping” which is a trek back the early days of Erasure. In fact, it even carries synthesizer genes of Depeche Mode (“New Life”) (to the uninitiated, Clarke was an original member and the chief songwriter of the equally ubiquitous Synthpop band during its nascent days). Following in the same heartbeat and sentiment is the melodramatic “Shot a Satellite.” Another future classic ensues in the form of “Tower of Love,” which echoes traces of Kraftwerk (“Airwaves”), The Normal (“Warm Leatherette”), Camouflage (“Love Is a Shield”), and Igo (“Synth Love”). And then the mood shifts to a higher gear and darker tone as “Diamond Lies” plays next.

The neon lights then slowly fade out as Erasure showcases its knack for slow balladry with the piano-oriented “New Horizons” and the luscious rhythm and instrumentation of “Careful What I Try to Do”—a welcome break from the album’s overall roller coaster, dance floor-worthy theme. Finally, Clarke and Bell wrap up their new record with “Kid, You’re Not Alone”—an easy-to-the-ears and touching-to-the-heart album closer.

The world of Synthpop music is populated by so many interesting groups since the illustrious 1980s. The Human League (“Don’t You Want Me”), Red Flag (“Russian Radio”), When in Rome (“The Promise”), Yazoo (“Nobody’s Diary”), Information Society (“What’s on Your Mind [Pure Energy]”), and the aforementioned Depeche Mode are only some of the honorably mentionable. And then, of course, the genre is incomplete without Erasure. The Neon is another proof that the songwriting tandem of Clarke and Bell is as potent, if not powerful and inspired, as ever. For these reasons Cryptic Rock gives The Neon 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. As a means to further his passion for music, he formed the band haLf man haLf eLf. He now performs with another band, The Psychedelics. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He began writing album reviews for CrypticRock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf? His next planned literary endeavor is to publish the remaining parts of the anthology and his works on Poetry, Fantasy Fiction, and Mythology. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. He participates at various community events; and he explores the diverse cultural beauty of Canada whenever his schedule permits it. aLfie is a doting and dedicated father to his now ten-year-old son, Evawwen.

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