Erasure is a band that prides itself on feel-good music. Even the title The Neon is an easy to identify ode to the fluorescent lights that illuminate dance clubs. It is a simple way to let newcomers know what to expect within the album while letting fans who have been along for the long ride know that Erasure is returning to their ’80s pop roots.
Singer Andy Bell reflects on the choices and relationships that have gotten him to where he is now while bandmate Vince Clarke handles the entirely synth background of the band’s aesthetic. Throughout the years, they have webbed a balance between atmospheric pop and glam rock. For being in the dance-club rotation, Erasure has typically focused more on tender love rather than the immediate pleasure-seeking vibes that proliferate the electronic dance music genre. Long past the honeymoon stage of burning passions, Erasure’s music has evolved into a slower pace reflective of long-lasting commitment. In Erasure’s case, age and experience have allowed them to move past all of the hopes and doubts accompanying a new romance, and instead, they look backwards on love to create music with the clarity of hindsight.
Erasure finds themselves in a similar groove to other aging bands mostly remembered for their early material. Their musical taste has matured, but they are still expected to perform in a similar manner to their younger days. The more pop-centric songs on The Neon, “Hey Now (I Think I Got a Feeling)” and “No Point In Tripping” chase after their original pop sound while slower ballads such as, “Tower of Love”, “New Horizons”, and “Kid You’re Not Alone” are more present and original, only being able to be sung by this band at this point in time. Overall, the slower ballads feel more genuine, but The Neon needs the injection of their earlier style to differentiate the pace of the album.
While Erasure used to be the hotshots of their day, they are now the wise mentors passing on advice to the next generation of young talent. They built their foundation in dance music, which is a genre that will always be dominated by a feisty group of young and hungry musicians working to one-up each other through a complicated evolution of beats in order to be featured at the top of the charts. The Neon does not update or progress the genre, but rather continues the mold they helped establish. It is surely a fun album, but Father Time has caught up to Erasure, and they have lost a bit of the edge that made their music cut through the clutter.