Erasure barely acknowledge the dance floor on “World Be Gone,” instead filling their 17th album with topical, poignant tunes worried about the state of the world but hopeful love can still make a difference.
Vince Clarke continues to command the synthesizers as well as ever while Andy Bell’s voice has acquired an expressive, pliant huskiness which lies comfortably on the luxurious beds of backing vocals.
The sunniest, most buoyant tracks are used as bookends – yearning first single and opener “Love You to the Sky” and “Just a Little Love,” which could be early Erasure (or late Yazoo).
The other eight tracks are more reflective, some touching on issues of the heart but also concerned with the way our lives are affected by factors beyond our control and our lack of attentiveness to what we could possibly change.
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The dark, robotic “Oh What a World” sees the globe as “sheer madness” where admission into a witness protection program is an effective, if extreme, attempt at escapism. “Still It’s Not Over” recounts how much has been gained in gay rights – and at what costs – but knows much remains to be achieved.
“Lousy Sum of Nothing” laments insensitivity, how switching channels is practically all the response we can muster to tragedies.
“Sweet Summer Love” is a new relationship that has both passion and commitment, helping Bell find fulfillment again after the death of his partner.
Over their 32-year-career, Erasure have asked for and earned more than a little respect. On “World Be Gone,” they’re still hopeful a little love can save us.
Erasure, “World Be Gone” (Mute)