Out today via Mute Records, Erasure’s album, ‘The Neon’, could be just as easily be a trip back in time, as much as it’s a contemporary album. It’s all about how you view it. Those of a certain age might be transported to the days of neon fingerless gloves, teased up hair like birds’ nests, and stirrup pants and Doc Martens (brogues or boots – your choice), paired with oversized painter shirts. But then again, it’s very much a contemporary album, touching on very modern themes. A lot of the issues of the 80s are revisited – albeit in slightly different form – today, and albums like ‘The Neon’ are what we needed then, and now, to take our minds off those things.
Written and produced by Erasure, ‘The Neon’ was born out of a desire to follow up 2017’s ‘World Be Gone’ with a fresh look on life, and a new optimism and energy. Vince Clarke, in speaking of the project, said,
“Our music is always a reflection of how we’re feeling. He was in a good place spiritually, and so was I – really good places in our minds. You can hear that.”
The album takes its inspiration from a wide ranging trawl through pop music over the years, from bands Andy Bell loved as a child, right through to now. He explains,
“It was about refreshing my love – hopefully our love – of great pop. I want kids now to hear these songs! I wanted to recharge that feeling that pop can come from anyone.”
And that much is clear right from the start. Opening with the bright, percolator pop ‘Hey Now (Think I’ve Got A Feeling)’, with its staccato vocals and upbeat dancey rhythms, we’re immediately caught up in what Erasure want to convey. It’s fun, it’s lively, it’s compelling, and it makes sense that it was the first single released, when it had its premiere on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show back at the start of June.
Following on, ‘Nerves Of Steel’, is classic Erasure. It was also released as a single last week, along with a music video featuring a whole host of LGBTQIA+ stars, including Detox, Manila Luzon, Amanda Lepore, and Candis Cayne. The vocals are gorgeous, the lyrics are simplistic, yet the rhythms are catchy and hook you in; there’s nice switches between musical themes, while the constant back beat keeps it all nicely tied together.
The vocals for ‘The Neon’ were recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, with both Vince and Andy at the studio sessions, while the mixing was done by the band back in London, earlier this year.
Andy’s vocals on third track, ‘Fallen Angel’, are gorgeously smooth, and the track jumped straight out of the box for me, and I instantly put it on my list as an early album favourite. The peppy rhythms transported me back to my teens – you know, the stirrup-pants and neon fingerless gloves ones.
‘No Point In Tripping’, track four, is super dancey, and got me bopping before I realised. My measure of a good album is if you forget that you’re meant to be listening for reviewing purposes, and find yourself listening for pleasure. I’d well and truly forgotten my purpose by this track, I enjoyed the more complex instrumentals of the song (compared to those I’d already heard).
The soaring vocals on the bridge and chorus, along with the appropriately spacey computer noises make it easy to see why ‘Shot A Satellite’ was chosen to be released as a single. The percussive synths have a sci-fi quality that would not be out of place in Lost In Space, My Favourite Martian, or, perhaps more reasonably, Doctor Who.
By track six, ‘Tower Of Love’, I’d realised Erasure probably start their songs by first selecting a beat and then working a song around it. This one in particular reminded me of ‘Doctor Doctor’ by Thompson Twins, and I very much enjoyed the contemporary Sleeping Beauty tale it tells.
In the home stretch now, and my late album favourite is ‘Diamond Lies’, which again reminds me of a song by another artist, this time, ‘Cars’, by Gary Numan – which incidentally was released 41 years ago today. The smooth transitions are to die for, and it’s an altogether lovely track which will have you taking that trip down memory lane once again.
Also among my favourites, and possibly the standout track, ‘New Horizons’ is slow and anthemic, with a gorgeous piano and soaring vocals giving it an almost churchy feel. It’s one of those songs you can lose yourself in…and I did.
Penultimate track, ‘Careful What I Try To Do’ takes a return to the previous upbeat tempo of the rest of the album, and yet there’s a slight mellowness overall. The popcorn beat will have you bopping, and the song itself will keep you there.
Final track is the perfect ending to the album, ‘Kid You’re Not Alone’ is a swirling, smooth, very fitting last song, all in all closing out beautifully on an altogether stunning album.
‘The Neon’, by Erasure, is out today via Mute Records, and is available here. Watch the fabulous video for their latest single, ‘Nerves Of Steel’, below: