Union Street

Studio Album by released in 2006
Union Street's tracklist:
Boy
Piano Song
Stay With Me
Spiralling
Home
Tenderest Moments
Alien
Blues Away
How Many Times?
Love Affair
Rock Me Gently

Union Street review

On Union Street, Erasure have delivered their biggest surprise yet

Following the disbandment of the short-lived synth pop group Yazoo, former Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke formed Erasure in 1985 with singer Andy Bell. Like Yaz and Depeche Mode, Erasure were a synth-based group, but they had stronger dance inclinations, as well as a sharper, more accessible sense of pop songcraft, than either of Clarke's previous bands. Furthermore, Erasure had the flamboyantly eccentric Andy Bell – one of the first openly gay performers in pop music – as their focal point. Bell's keening, high voice and exaggerated sense of theatrically became the band's defining image. In two decades of plugging in and wigging out, Erasure have sold millions of albums around the world, staged Broadway-style live spectaculars, and topped the charts with outlandish cover versions. On Union Street, Vince and Andy have delivered their biggest surprise yet. In a boldly experimental step for an electronic band, they have unplugged themselves, bringing new depths and acoustic textures of 11 songs spanning their entire career. Synths (as ever) are present, as are Andy Bell's distinctive vocal stylings, making this collection of ballads and upbeat pop classics a must for anybody who appreciates great pop music.

Union Street showcases richer, more soulful depths of Andy’s vocal range

Originally recorded for the Cowboy album in 1997, Boy and Love Affair are both bittersweet farewells sung from the aftermath of ruined relationships. The former now packs an extra emotional punch from Andy's vaulting falsetto harmonies and generous dollops of honeyed slide guitar, while the latter becomes a more graceful chamber music affair swept along by exquisite string arrangements. Some tracks on Union Street have been completely transformed by their radical new arrangements. Spiralling, which started life on The Circus in 1987, is now a crisp marriage of finger-picking guitar and melancholy introspection. And Blues Away, taken from the 1994 album I Say, I Say I Say, is a rich, warm, sleep-eyed strum about yearning for that elusive perfect lover. There is more heart-tugging slide guitar woven into Home and Tenderest Moment, both first heard in their electronic versions on the 1991 album Chorus. The pared-down, organic textures of Union Street also create enough space for Andy to showcase the richer, more soulful depths of his vocal range. Andy’s mournful timbre on the languid, heartbroken Piano Song and the strikingly stark, regretful ballad How Many Times are pure Nashville Noir. First heard on the 1995 album Erasure, Stay With Me has been transformed into a sun-kissed serenade with a lively Spanish feel and a bubbling undertow of rapturous desire. Another former single from the same album, Rock Me Gently is reborn as the shiny celestial lullaby that closes Union Street.

Erasure have never before sounded so graceful or so heartfelt

Erasure have done what most bands can only dream of: they've been able to sustain a long-standing career of nearly two decades. With 14 million albums sold, 32 consecutive Top 40 singles and an assured position as one of pop's most influential and successful acts, Erasure are certainly in a position to be a little experimental. They have always been proudly, defiantly, shamelessly pop. But behind all those impressive sales figures and kitsch stage costumes, it has sometimes been overlooked just what consistently great songwriters Vince and Andy have been throughout their career. Union Street proves there has always been much more to Erasure than shiny pop thrills. Unplugged, both musically and emotionally, they have never before sounded so graceful or so heartfelt. Union Street was recorded in the Brooklyn studio of the same name, which is owned by guitarist Steve Walsh, who previously played on Erasure’s 2003 covers collection Other People's Songs and produced their 2005 album Nightbird. This is an album full of pleasant surprises. But coming from Erasure, that is no surprise at all.

(06.04.2006)
Rate review3.99
Total votes - 14


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