Light At The End Of The World


Mute Records, 2007

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Could the UK synth act Erasure be ready to call it a day?  The title of their twelfth studio release, Light At The End Of The World certainly seems to lead us to that conclusion. 

If this is indeed the end for Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, at least they are ending on a solid note.  Putting aside the cheap and ugly metaphysical cover art, half the songs that are found on this album are among the duo’s very best.  Their fans can be rest assured that this album brings back the classic Erasure sound, something that had been missing in the last ten years.  As their best album since Cowboy in 1997, Light At The End Of The World finally gets things back on track.

The first three songs are the best of the bunch.  Most music critics probably won’t even bother to get past the first three songs anyway, so it was smart of Erasure to kick the album off with the strongest they have to offer.  Comparisons are already being made to the 1989 effort my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Wild!, though that is a bit of a stretch.  Actually, I find the new material to be along the same lines as 1994’s I Say, I Say, I Say, which is the other Erasure album that takes a few spins to fully appreciate.

The lead-off single “I Could Fall In Love With You” is a good choice.  It’s nice to hear Andy Bell taking some risks with his vocal range, even daring to sing in a deep, lower register.  Vince Clarke is more limited by the music he supplies, since there’s only so much you can do with synthesizers.  He does attempt to make this album more upbeat than their previous anemic album Nightbird, even throwing dance beats into songs that probably shouldn’t have dance beats, namely the ballads.  Somehow, he does make it all work, though it is clearly by the skin of his teeth.

Other choice cuts on Light At The End Of The World are the songs that begin with the letter “S.”  “Sucker For Love” is so different, it comes as a bit of a shock when you first hear it, but now I consider it to be the album’s best track.  Coming in as a close second is “Sunday Girl,” a most welcome and unexpected find that is as good as any other Erasure hit single.  Another song that deserves to be mentioned is the wonderfully titled “Storm In A Teacup.”  Along with “Fly Away” and “Golden Heart,” Andy Bell shares his story about being HIV+ in a lyrical way that is very inspirational.  It’s no wonder these songs were placed smack dab in the center, because they really are the heart and soul of the album. 

The end of Light isn’t quite as effective.  In fact, the last four songs all tend to blur together, no matter how hard you try to differentiate between them.  Still, at this stage of their career -- which has lasted over two decades -- this is probably as good as it will ever get for these guys.  If they want to quit while they're ahead, then now is the time to do so.

Rating: B-

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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 Mute Records, and is used for informational purposes only.