August 21, 2020 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.