Monday, November 29, 2004


(Mute Records)

In the seven years its taken Erasure to release a new album, we’ve seen its inconsistent offspring, Electroclash come and go. And while it was an admirable goal to recreate the world as the soundtrack for a John Hughes film, the synthesized and synthetic scene that originated in Brooklyn felt too ironic and self-aware. Look at us, the music said, we are so hilariously retro. Now, do you like our legwarmers?

With their remarkable comeback, Nightbird, Erasure’s original and only two members, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke show us what a group is truly capable of if they were to wear their heart out on their sequined sleeve. The assured confidence and sophistication of songs like “Here I Go Impossible Again” and “Don’t Say You Love Me” bring us back to the sugary-sweet time when their hit song “Chains Of Love” asked us ‘do you remember once there was a time?” Brimming with a youthful optimism (Bell and Chase are both respectively in their 40’s) the first single, “Breathe” shimmers with Bell’s distinct falsetto and Clarke’s three-dimensional production. The song is, dare I say it, rather moving.

The lyrical inspirations on Nightbird, like most of Erasure’s catalogue, still focuses on obsessive love; how to win it back, how to let it go, or how to celebrate while being in it (if that’s even possible). But most of all, the duo’s eleventh record is such a welcome return because it’s comfortable embracing its roots, as opposed to electro-clashing with them.

Joseph Arthur
Our Shadows Will Remain
(Vector Recordings)

Joseph Arthur is not the person you call when you’re looking for someone to cheer you up. As incredibly talented as the severely underrated New York singer-songwriter is, he is by no means a pick-me-upper. After four sonically and lyrically strong albums exploring the vulnerability of man and the pain that comes along with it, Arthur presents us with his strongest release yet, Our Shadows Will Remain. An album this consistent and evocative should bring Arthur out of the dreaded lurches of Critical Acclaim and into the homes of fans of Jeff Buckley, Leonard Bernstein, and Peter Gabriel. Successfully alternating between multiple genres, like the subtle and heavenly beauty of “Echo Park” (a relative to the Shins’ “New Slang”) to the New Order-like pulse of “Puppets,” Our Shadows is a triumph overcast, not with shadows, but with the sentiments of an eclectic and sensitive soul.


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