‘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

Lady Gaga previews latest single ‘Judas’

Days before the single is released, Lady Gaga has leaked her newest single “Judas.” Gaga goes heavier in tone and message, but we’re gonna give it a few more listens so the earworm can completely take over our day. I’m digging the dance beat and it’s fairly cohesive with “Born This Way.”

The word is out that the video for this song is going to have a few people up in arms. Pop Crush posted this earlier in the week and it’s got us quite curious:

Lady Gaga‘s video for her next single ‘Judas’ could send religious fundamentalists into an uproar over its content. Gaga co-directed the video with her creative director Laurieann Gibson, whom she has been working with since before she was signed to Interscope. It was a major undertaking for Gibson — who is a woman of faith herself, and has biblical words to describe the final product.

—  Rich Lopez

Just like at her concerts, Britney Spears doesn’t actually sing on leaked clip from her new single

Britney Spears is slowly building up her own buzz in her attempt to catch up to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. This two-minute clip of her next single “Hold It Against Me” was released … er, leaked, today. Spears clearly isn’t doing the vocals, but Just Jared points out that it sounds a whole lot like Ke$ha. And he’s right. I could overspeculate on why she would leak the song if she’s not even singing it, but then the trite dance beat and juvenile lyrics like So if I said I want your body now/ would you hold it against me? (really?) reminded me not to waste my time. 

Like Gaga, Spears teased the masses with a tweet mentioning the real release of “Hold It …” which comes out Tuesday. All the kids are doing it.

—  Rich Lopez