The 1980s are back, baby.
Vince Clarke was the 1980s. In addition to The Assembly, he founded not one but THREE of the 1980s biggest electronic acts; Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure. Despite finding major success with the first two, it is Erasure with whom he has endured, having released countless albums since they first hit it big with the insatiable earworm 'A Little Respect'.
It's safe to say that, since then, they haven't changed much. Latest album The Neon, which is a bit of a naff title to be honest, is absolutely everthing you'd expect it to be. Full of all the same synthesisers and programmed drums as ever, Erasure have yet again done what they do best - create catchy and melodic tunes that are just great to listen to.
From minute one, it's clear that the hymn sheet is the same. An arpeggiated synth and off-beat bass is quickly followed by a cheery lead synth, distinctly paving the way for the next 37 minutes. Opener 'Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling' is a delightful slice of fun, and follow-up 'Nerves of Steel', slower and more emotional, is a real highlight. It's nothing that we haven't heard from Erausre before, but amongst everything else out there, there's still room for this old-school sound.
True, these isn't much variety to be found. The biggest differences between the songs are the lyrics and the BPM, and even the latter doesn't fluctuate much. It's certainly safe to say that once Clarke found his sound, he clearly never wanted to waiver from it, determined to push as much material from the core idea as possible. To be fair, he's somehow found about forty years of music from it, and that takes some doing. However, it'd be nice to hear a little more from him from time to time.
When split up, there is no single bad song on the album. 'Diamond Lies' is a beautiful effort, 'Shot a Satellite' is excellent as is 'Fallen Angel'. The thing is, when played back-to-back, it does get samey and you do start to wish for something different before long.
Well, unless you're a big Erasure fan, that is. Long-time fans of the band will go into this record knowing exactly what they're getting and won't be shocked by anything they hear on it. If Erasure are your jam, this album will really do it for you. For the rest of us, the short 37-minute runtime will come as a bit of a relief, as it ensures the album doesn't feel too long despite its repetitive nature.
In fairness, should a successful 60 year-old man really be expected to push himself? Probably not. He's got the fame, he's got the money, and in truth, he doesn't need to be releasing music at all. The main reason he is, I'm sure, is because he enjoys it. He's making music for fun, and in the end, that's all it should be really.
With that in mind, let's just take this album as it is. Whilst there's nothing to take your breath away, there's also nothing wrong with it either. It's just a fun album that can make you smile and dance a bit as well. That's job done then really, and if you're someone who loves the 1980s synthpop sound, then you'll enjoy this album. It really is that simple.
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