Review: Erasure – Tomorrow’s World

It’s become a broken record on this blog that the old faithful’s the stand-by’s, the go-to’s have largely fallen flat in 2011 amidst a sea of far more interesting upstarts doing far more interesting work. This album, alas is no exception.

However, we need to reiterate a little history for valuable, yummy-yet-nutritious context! This blogger cottoned to Erasure in the most passionate, excited way back at the release of their first single, “Who Needs Love Like That” in 1985. Already a huge fan of Vince Clarke (the name for the stray tabby who wondered into the family in ’85? Vince, of course in honour of the master. If Softsynth has a musical idol Clarke would wear the crown. Wonderland took the electrosoul concept to new heights and the cassette was played so much the tape wore thin and tore; The Circus was loved even more; The Innocents a constant stream of surprise and wonder; Wild was an inconsistent mess that nonetheless had so many terrific bubbly synth pop songs that played dangerously with serious genre confusion yet too suffered for the enthusiastic overplaying on the faithful Walkman. Chorus just boringly brilliant.

On and on, Clarke and Bell were the masters of the synth pop duo conceit, album after album. Yet their prolific tendencies led to a degree of listener burnout and a bad case of sameness. The duo seemed to have run short of compelling, original ideas. Then there came the horribly produced muddy-sounding Loveboat, the dreadfully misconceived acoustic Union Street, the downright bizarre covers album, and the soul-crushingly dull Light at the End of the World. For every wonderful “Breathe” there would be a surfeit of weak material that would cause such a glut as to cause one to almost forget the nearly two decades of greatness.

All that is to say, we were nonetheless excited with anticipation for the newest Erasure confection, Tomorrow’s World. A very promising lead off single and even some Erasure-retro-classic cover art mixed in with a little genuine nostalgia for the way a new Erasure would make us feel once upon a time and we had the metaphoric feedbag strapped on for this one. And we tried, lawd knows we tried, but while miles better and more fun than Light at the End of the World, it’s still a pale imitation of what this band was once capable of.

Erasure were once kings of the killer hook and above all else, creating a sense of fun. But in 2011 all sense of real fun has been driven out of the material and the hooks are hiding behind the shed too. What’s left is a mountain of what would have once been album filler on an earlier work and the occasional glimpse of what we know the boys have inside them to create. There are shining moments, and even some moments of real inspiration. The title track is an instrumental cover of a kids show theme, redolent of some of Clarke’s work with Yazoo and early Erasure and it’s both clever and, yes, fun. Single “When I Start To (Break It All Down)” is a lovely mid tempo track. “You’ve Got to Save Me Right Now” is a neat total change-up as a sexy retro grinder that really brings us back to the electrosoul that was once a staple for the band. “Be With Me” and “I Lose Myself” are fun songs that capture much of the magic of Erasure in their heyday right down to the little synth breaks that pepper the tracks. There’s really good stuff here but it’s hidden between the cracks.

The album is ultimately a pastiche of disco clichés. And while there’s nothing wrong with a little disco magic, if you’re going to boogie in that particular direction you need to keep it hooky and it’s got to penetrate your brain like some kind of musical tumor and this album just doesn’t achieve that. This isn’t written with an ounce of relish, as much as it is a sad realization that with each passing year the odds of much more new music from a band like Erasure diminishes exponentially and the chances of Bell and Clarke grabbing that brass ring diminishes too. And this harsh consequence of the passage of time just sucks for one who grew up with the band.

“More of the same stuff/don’t want to let you down” croons Andy Bell on “Then I Go Twisting”, a track that wants to take off and go somewhere cool but never makes it off the ground. And sadly, Andy, we appreciate the sentiment but let down we can’t help but be from a lukewarm effort…

Watch: When I Start To (Break It All Down)

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6 Responses to “Review: Erasure – Tomorrow’s World”

  1. I too discovered Erasure with “Who Needs Love (Like That)?” and was for years and years a devotee. They were like Depeche Mode’s peppier, poppier side. It’s so sad to hear what both bands have devolved into. Erasure is now so drab. I detest the new single, so probably won’t bother with the album at all–Andy sounds awfully solemn and tired, and the music lacks any of the effervescent synths with which I associate their best works.

  2. The CD flat out sucks. I love Vince…Ilove Andy so believe me when I say it pains me to say that. It sounds like everyone else. Sidechain madness. Boring. Nothing like Erasure I know. Big mistake on their part for having that DJ co-produce.

  3. mark - florida usa Says:

    Yes, it sucks. I love them both too!! Fan since the beginning. I got this CD and stowed it away in the foot locker under my bed.

  4. […] Softsynth’s detailed review of Tomorrow’s World […]

  5. I’m a huge fan and have been for years, but what we need to ask is this: are we expecting the same Erasure from the Chorus/ISayx3/Erasure days?

    Every group needs to grown and experiment (*cough* Loveboat *cough*), and there is some of that growth here, but the classic Erasure is seen here as well. Be With You, When I Start and to some extent I lose myself show that talent.

    Another thing to remember, the music scene has changed in many ways. In reality, the chances of having another Always playing on the radio again seems unlikely as the musical taste of the industry (and public has changed).

    So, horrible album, no. Great album, no. All and all, not too bad.

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