‘Tomorrow’ is today

Producer Frankmusik revitalizes Erasure as the group hits its quarter century

Music-1
ON THE EDGE | Pop gods Andy Bell and Vince Clarke made a name with consumable ’80s dance beats, but their latest album introduces their fans to a new phase in the storied career of Erasure.

 

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

It’s hard to believe that a quarter of a century ago, we were introduced to Erasure with Wonderland. “Oh L’Amour” and “Who Needs Love Like That” still stand strong —much more so than anything Erasure has recorded in the past decade.

That changes with the release of their 14th studio album, Tomorrow’s World. Thanks to producer Frankmusik, Erasure regains the excitement of Wonderland and those early releases, but still pushes forward with polish.

Frankmusik and mixer Rob Orton have worked their electronica magic on Lady Gaga and Pet Shop Boys, but their work with Erasure seems, as Frankmusik has dubbed it, a calling.

Without dismissing their classic sound, the album is distinctly Erasure but dusted off and refreshed with a solid modern take, apparent from the start with “Be With You” and “Fill Us with Fire.” Vince Clarke and Andy Bell composed all nine tracks and yes, they run with a dance beat, but Frankmusik and Orton update it with a crispness the band has been waning on.

The two tracks reflect the energy and the beats that flow in and out of the album keeping it consistent and exciting.

Electronica blues may sound like an irony, but they pull it off in “You’ve Got To Save Me Now.” Bell mans up to the challenge with a soulful delivery that’s buoyed by a very modern take on a bluesy beat and lyrics like When everything was better you’d hang on the wrong meanin’ / When love is so demeaning / I got to pick myself up off the floor. This approach pushes

Erasure’s direction without stretching them out of shape into something you can’t recognize.

The first single, “When I Start (To Break it All Down),” mirrors the vibrancy of the first two tracks. Bell delivers a masterful emotional performance here that works with the woeful lovey-dovey lyrics. The song is peppy, but genuinely earnest thanks to Bell.

With so much right here, the album still has a couple of trip-ups. In “A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot,” they take on a meditation on celebrity, but the lyrics get a bit corny. Celebs singing about celebs doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but whatever. Forget the lyrics and take in the beat. The music track is so clean and powerful; it’s like taking a bath in techno. The same goes for “I Lose Myself.” Erasure turns in their angry tune, but the clichés add up to a forgettable track. I got rid of that chip on my shoulder / I never thought I’d be tough enough / Ain’t that what your momma told ya are lost but the music is fine. Although, if they really wanted to be angry, throw in a screeching guitar.

My hope is “Then I Go Twisting” becomes their signature song here as well as in the pantheon of Erasure classics. It’s the loveliest and most fun moment on Tomorrow. In some ways it’s prophetic as Bell sings Sick of this techno monophonic sounds and then later, More of the same stuff / I don’t wanna let you down. They don’t, though the album begins to wind down here. The song deserves two things — great headphones and your attention. Go out, buy some high-end cans and let Bell’s voice, the thumpy bass and crisp keyboards seep into your ears and body. Crappy earbuds won’t cut it for this piece of music euphoria.

Tomorrow’s World puts them back on track to the Erasure we love. Their last few albums we saw Erasure falling into itself losing some of their clever whimsy and energy. The symbiotic relationship between the band and Orton and Frankmusik created a strong album, but recreated the excitement of their early releases.

Welcome back.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Queer music duo Telepathe preview new single

Indie Brooklyn-duo Telepathe are on the verge of releasing their next full-length album and give a tease with the release of the 7″-er “Throw Away This.” While they are taking pre-orders for the vinyl single, you can download the song here on Stereogum.

Think of Tegan & Sara but with some dancey flair. The song is short, but oh so sweet with an uptempo beat and some ’80s throwback. This definitely makes me curious for their upcoming album, which is said to be produced by Lewis Pesacov, who produced the sublime debut by Best Coast.

—  Rich Lopez

Queer Music News: Lady Gaga previews album cover; Culture Club getting back together

• Lady Gaga Twitpic-ed her album cover (right) for Born This Way and it’s already getting flak. Apparently it’s a Kylie Minogue ripoff. At least according to Entertainment Weekly. Whatever. Pop musicians rip off each other all the time.

The title song is now supposed to debut Friday instead of previous reports of Feb. 13.

• Boy George appeared on Larry Flick’s The Morning Show on Sirius XM OutQ gay radio Tuesday with some big news. At least big for ’80s music fans. The decade’s iconic band Culture Club is slated for a reunion marking the 30th anniversary of their inception. And they are going all out with a tour and an album. I just hope they make a stop in Dallas and that Mr. George isn’t so bitchy.

Listen to what he told Flick here. And after that, enjoy my favorite CC song below.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: Sugar & Gold to play free show at Jack Daniel’s Saloon

I came across this by sheer luck, but the very gay Sugar & Gold headlines a free concert this month at the Jack Daniels Saloon in the Gilley’s Music Complex. The San Francisco based band were last seen in these parts last June when they played Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton. I’m so glad they’ll be closer this time.

S&G follow in that same pop dance vein as Of Montreal and Scissor Sisters, but falls more into the “little brother” category of those bands — or should we say “little sister?” Reprising a late ’80s/early ’90s touch to their disco music, their sound isn’t so much challenging as it is kinda irresistible. Try not to enjoy their video below for “Stay Soft,” filled with a throwback of color explosion and kaleidoscopic imagery. Ridiculous, sure – fun, hell yeah.

Yip Deceiver and DJ Trademarx open the show. The show is scheduled for Jan. 29 and it’s free. Free I say. How can you beat that? It might get Guerilla Gay Bar up in Jack Daniel’s that night. Hope they’re ready for it. Doors at 8 p.m.

—  Rich Lopez

Wheeler to annoy Tyler again — and we like it

What with the recent ado in Tyler regarding the TV station that asked viewers whether homosexuality will be the downfall of America, we were thinking about our friend Trinity Wheeler. Trinity is the former Tyler resident who returned last summer to direct a local stage production of The Laramie Project, only to be met by opposition from some members of the community and triggering a controversy. (We reported on it extensively, including here.) The production did go on, and by all accounts was a success.

But it also made me wonder what Trinity has been up to since the brouhaha. Well, here’s what he had to say:

I have been great! I’m directing a show in NYC in the spring and have just been getting ready for that. Also, three other writers and I are currently working on an original play about Tyler. The story centers on the Nicholas West murder and an organization called H.I.S. House which was an AIDS hospice in Tyler during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The Nicholas West story has garnered some media attention over the years, but the story and struggle of an AIDS hospice in Tyler remains untold. With Nicholas West, it examines “hate” and how it develops into the sheer brutality (shot execution style 9-15 times) of his murder. I have often wondered if Nick’s murder was not as public as Matt Shepard because he was Latin and his parents did not speak out like the Shepards. We are in the process of conducting numerous interviews with people surround both stories and slowing piecing it together. I know I have said it before, but everyone at the Dallas Voice should be commended for your help during The Laramie Project in Tyler. You were a beacon a light when the going got tough there.”

That last part is nice to hear, but we’re really interested in that play. Can’t imagine it’ll upset anyone in Tyler again.

Yeah, right.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones