There’s something kinda wonderful about Erasure. Bar a few misteps they pretty much always sound like Erasure. I’ve personally not listened to many of their albums since the mid 90s – aside from their slightly disastrous record where they let one hit wonder Frankmusik produce.
The Neon is written and produced by Erasure and therefore sounds a lot more familiar which is both a positive and a negative. The album’s initial sessions saw Vince and Andy reunite to work on the follow up to 2017’s downbeat World Be Gone with a fresh optimism and energy, in part born from their own recent personal projects. Vince explains, “Our music is always a reflection of how we’re feeling. He was in a good place spiritually, and so was I – really good places in our minds. You can hear that.”
The world we find ourselves in has of course changed drastically since they made The Neon and really until Trump lost and a vaccine for COVID-19 was found I’ve been a little out of sorts with that kinda of positivity! Now’s the time to review this album I thought, several months after it came out!
The album opens with first single Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling) which took me a few listens for it to settle in that I now really enjoy. It’s followed by Nerves of Steel which (and this is a common complaint for The Neon) is that it just lacks punch. The “heavy” guitar that lands on the chorus sounds like it was recorded in the studio next door. It’s too low in the mix and later they do some cool hard edits of it but it’s just not prominent enough to hit you in the feels.
Where Erasure seem to have not moved on is in their drum programming. While it worked in the 80s and 90s the more modern of their new songs sound like demos because on many of them the drum pattern remains the same between the verse and chorus. I find this is like baking a nice cake and not icing it. It often blunts the potential emotion. I’m just asking for a few hi hats and one or two drum fills, guys.
But then there is Fallen Angel. An ode to all the things Andy has tried to give him love and easily the best thing on the album. Maybe the best thing they’ve recorded in the last decade. While the critic in me wishes they took more care with the drums here too the arrangement is lovely and they know they’re onto a killer chorus so know to repeat it as much as possible.
Fallen Angel is rightly the current single and a hit in every sense of the word. Other stand out tracks are Shot A Satellite and Diamond Love and I found The Neon fades towards the end and on several listen throughs the tail end it didn’t engage me much. I’m positive Erasure fans may disagree but the slower pacing of those later doesn’t do much for me although I will say those songs suit the repeated drum patterns that don’t work so well on the faster paced ones.
Overall an above average record with an absolute diamond of a track in Fallen Angel.