fri 22/06/2018

CD: Erasure - Snow Globe | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Erasure - Snow Globe

CD: Erasure - Snow Globe

As camp as Christmas and twice as synthetic

Snow globe: sugar-coated

There's something about the partnership of Vince Clarke and Andy Bell that seems to automatically generate sweetness. This collection of half originals and half Christmas classics is really quite dark, quite a bitter look at winter and the Christmas spirit – but somehow, Clarke's fizzing synth work and Bell's ever-distinctive voice give it all a sugar frosting, just like pretty much all of their work.

But then that's been their strength and downfall throughout their existence. The longest running of Clarke's musical partnerships, Erasure never seemed to ever quite get the critical kudos of Yazoo and Depeche Mode (Clarke's early work with the latter admittedly only ever really given its due in retrospect) – and perhaps they encouraged this, with an awful lot of sequin-camp, cheap jokes and silliness surrounding their releases. And an awful lot of very, very sweet sound.

The darkness is there, though. It's perhaps best accessed on this album through the deeply peculiar version of “White Christmas” where Bell comes over like an arch android announcer on a tannoy, and Clarke's backing crackles, glitches and slips across chords like virtual reality gone wrong. The whole is like being lost in a synthetic winter wonderland that you don't belong to, and as soon as you twig that it gives a key to the whole album.

“Silent Night”, which perhaps takes its cue from Nathan Fake's 2005 electronic instrumental version, is done with less florid performance but beneath its sweet coating, it is equally weird. Even the relentlessly positive-seeming opener “Bells of Love” and the bouncy electropop “Loving Man” start to take on an edge of desperation after you've played the album through a few times. That sugar coating is still there, though, and despite the bitter fillings can get sickly – but then isn't this season supposed to be about pigging out a bit sometimes?

It's like being lost in a synthetic winter wonderland that you don't belong to

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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