Erasure - The Neon (Mute Records)
Vinyl / CD / Cassette / DL
In 1988, Erasure released their Crackers International EP led by the track Stop! It peaked at number 2 in the UK charts and became the latest in a long line of hits when Vince Clarke and Andy Bell could do no wrong. Why the mention of a thirty year old track? Well, it was undoubtedly, one of the catchiest hits of its time and one of the most perfect pop songs to have ever been released. Its success lay partly to a verse and chorus that were as memorable as the other. A constant three minute bombardment of high powered pop making the EP roar up the charts.
With The Neon, Erasure seem to have rekindled the Stop! formula perfectly. Ten new tracks which see Clarke dig out his analogue synths and create something that could have come from their heyday but with a modern twist. Album opener and first single Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling), is pop of the highest degree. On its day of release it was announced as the Radio 2 single of the week and immediately added to their A list for plays. Listen to the track and you’ll find yourself singing along to the verse instead of the chorus or, is it vice versa? It’s hard to tell because here Erasure have created something of a highpoint in their career.
The genius of Clarke is never in question. His techno wizardry and air of perfection is behind many hits that are instantly recognisable from the first few bars but, what is striking on The Neon is how Bell’s voice has become something quite superb. Maybe his solo ventures as semi-immortal polysexual St Torsten in the recent three album series has developed his voice beyond where it was previously. Whatever the reason he is on top form.
Current single, Nerves Of Steel could have fallen straight from 1987s The Innocents. A deep throbbing base and gentle synth swathes accompany Bell on his favourite track of the album. It pitches between slow love song and up-tempo pop with several electric guitar sounding riffs for good measure. Fallen Angel follows and a stranger to Erasure could be persuaded to believe that The Neon is their greatest hits collection as yet another song has the listener singing along within the first play.
The Neon is so relentless in an outpouring of superb tracks that it would be unfair to pick a highlight. Instead, the album is a collection of pop songs of the very highest order. It is refreshing and uplifting, it would challenge even the most stubborn pop opposer to not enjoy all ten tracks.
The final three tracks slow the pace slightly but not before Shot A Satellite and Diamond Lies zip from nowhere to everywhere at terrific speed. Kid You’re Not Alone closes the album as one of only two tracks that breaks the four minute mark. Simplicity is the key. Vocals and music accompany each other perfectly, in what is a fitting ending to a quite superb album.
The Neon is a triumph and certainly one of Erasure’s finest albums. For fans of pop, electro, 80s, it is essential listening. For everyone else, it is an album that deserves to be heard. If this was the band’s final album then it would be the perfect way to take a bow. However, when they are on this sort of form, why deny the public of such top drawer music?
Published on At The Barrier 21/08/20 - here