Sire/Mute, 1991

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Resplendent in Halloween colors, Erasure’s fifth album Chorus is also its crowning achievement. Produced by Martyn Phillips, it was nearly twice as successful as The Innocents and was their most cohesive package to date. 

The way each song flows right into the next makes it clear that Erasure had mastered its craft. And just when you thought Andy Bell and Vince Clarke were done, they would take the album on the road with their jaw-dropping Phantasmagorical Tour and proceeded to blow everyone away. Take that, Pet Shop Boys.

The year 1991 signaled the end of pop music as we once knew it as Michael Jackson's Dangerous was knocked off the charts by Nirvana's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Nevermind, ushering in the alternative revolution. Then, country and hip-hop would come to the fore later on in the decade, with hip-hop emerging as the dominant genre, even filtering into pop and rock music. It's still that way, with no end in sight.

In a way, that's symbolic of the divided nation today in the Bush era -- hip-hop or country, Kanye West or Toby Keith, it is evident that we are definitely embroiled in a culture war of red states vs. the blue state mentality.

It was not always this way, at least back when synth-pop was doing all it could to survive in the early 90s. Both Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys are still around today, which is fairly surprising considering their fan bases have shrunken and their music no longer gets airplay.  Nevertheless, they continue to churn out album after album, despite the fact that their formulas are wearing a bit thin at this point.

But back when Erasure was relevant, Chorus found the duo at its creative and commercial peak. Yes, the title track has the glaringly errant word “fishes” in the lyrics, but the contagious feel of the music makes up for it. You’ll also find an instant crowd pleaser of sorts, “Love To Hate You,” which comes complete with live audience effects in the background. 

The single “Breath Of Life” has some great percolating synth work by Vince, but is typical Erasure fare and nothing really much to write home about. On the other hand, “Am I Right” is another story entirely. As my all-time favorite Erasure ballad, it has a tough chorus to memorize yet contains some wonderful imagery that pulls at the heartstrings.

And those are only the singles.  The song that opened their legendary Phantasmagorical tour, “Siren Song,” is here as well - albeit minus the swan boat - in addition to the song that closed the show (performed in their bathrobes, armed with nothing more than a drum machine and a microphone), “Perfect Stranger.”

The real standout on Chorus that wins the award for Best Sound has to be “Turns The Love To Anger,” a track that gets faster and more intense as it progresses.  Encore, encore.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire/Mute, and is used for informational purposes only.