❉ The duo’s new album is the positivity we now need in 2020, writes Ange Chan.
Erasure are back with their new upbeat album The Neon which they say “is a place that lives in the imagination, that we put in the real world. It could be a night club, a shop, a city, a cafe, a country, a bedroom, a restaurant, any place at all. It’s a place of possibility in warm, glowing light and this is music that takes you there”.
Written and produced by the duo, the album’s initial sessions saw Vince and Andy reunite to work on the follow up to 2017’s World Be Gone with a fresh optimism and energy, in part born from their own recent personal projects. Vince goes on to explain, “Our music is always a reflection of how we’re feeling. Andy was in a good place spiritually, and so was I – really good places in our minds. You can hear that.” And that is very true; The Neon is the most upbeat, optimistic work that Erasure, both collective and individually as solo artists, have produced in a long time. World Be Gone had quite a morose undertone reflecting on the crazy new reality that we found ourselves in. In complete contrast The Neon is the positivity we now need in 2020.
Taking inspiration from pop music through the decades, from bands Andy loved as a child through to the present day, 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.”
The album opens with the lead single Hey Now (Think I’ve Got a Feeling) and Andy Bell’s voice is sounding as fresh and strong as it did in 1986 when Erasure released Sometimes. Meanwhile Vince’s approach to the synthesizer accompaniment remains as innovative and tushie-shakingly catchy as it ever has.
The next track is the current single, Nerves of Steel which continues the toe-tapping with a strong electro disco beat following the upbeat vibe of Hey Now. The video features 20 LGBTQIA+ stars, including several best known for their appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The video shines an appropriate neon light on the single’s pure pop gleam. Andy Bell said, “This is my favourite track from the album, I am truly honoured that all our LGBTQIA+ friends were so creative during lockdown and helped us with this joyful video. Thanks for creating such a lovely piece of art!”
Fallen Angel, and especially No Point Tripping both have that classic ‘Erasure sound’ which immediately grab you with an infectious hook that will soon be in your conscientious, and have you singing/humming away when you least expect it.
The synth sounds on this album are quite extraordinary. Shot a Satellite is indicative of this with base synth sounds that Human League circa 1978 would be proud of, and top notes with a catchy melody that will have you hitting the dance floor in a heartbeat. This song was released on social media a couple of weeks to positive comments and much excitement from the fan page.
Tower of Love is much more reflective song with thoughtful lyrics of a long standing love and reassurance that the security and love is still ever-present. Meanwhile, Diamond Lies returns to the more upbeat vibe of the general feeling on the album and injects positivity in between the next song New Horizons which again is a slower more reflective offering with a largely piano accompaniment.
Careful What I Try To Do is another song packed with the reality of life yet the positivity at the start of a new relationship and the hopefulness of a successful outcome. Kid, You’re Not Alone is the final track on this ten track album with a reflective soundscape opening and a melancholic mood.
The album’s vocals were recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, with Vince joining Andy at the studio sessions, and the mixing was done by the band in London earlier this year. Photographs were shot at that time in the unique environment of Gods Own Junkyard, a gallery housing a huge collection of vintage neon. Andy enthuses, “I felt like it was being inside a virtual reality game. I loved that it felt like being in a different world. That’s what I want our new album to convey.”
The Neon, in short is Erasure’s best and most cohesive album in a long time. It can’t fail to lift your mood with the positivity that is practically oozing from every lyric and every musical note. Welcome back Erasure, it’s been a while!
❉ Erasure: ‘The Neon’ is out on Mute on 21 August 2020, and available as pre-order exclusives on limited edition neon orange vinyl, limited edition neon green cassette and CD in a fold out orange foil blocked sleeve with fold out lyric and photography booklet, as well as on black vinyl, to download and stream. Pre-orders via the band’s shop will include priority access to future tour dates: mute.ffm.to/TheNeon
❉ Ange Chan is a freelance writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry. She was also a prolific contributor in the anthology collection Me and the Starman, (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and is a lifelong lover of music, having first been published in the 1980s music press. As well as being a frequent contributor to the pop culture website We Are Cult, she is working on her long-standing third novel Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots.