80s stalwarts Erasure have classically reworked their most recent album in order to create World Beyond, made in cooperation with a group of ‘post-classical’ musicians named Echo Collective. The result is a more refined incarnation, and a bold step in a slightly different direction.
Anybody who remembers Erasure from the good old days will no doubt reference the pulsing synths that propelled Andy Bell and Vince Clarke to the top of the charts from 1985 onwards. But on opener Oh What A World, there is nothing of the sort. It’s akin to all those ukulele covers of hip-hop songs forever floating around the YouTube abyss. Hearing a band without their trademark sound is alien and will leave you looking high and low in search of a proper chorus.
A Bitter Parting is a slight glimmer of hope, with Andy Bell’s voice standing the test of time. I’m about to bang my fist onto a desk and demand a bit of excitement though! I have so many questions for Erasure as to why they went back on their timeless legacy in such a way. That said, Still It’s Not Over is a tune that really lends itself to a more classical arrangement. The powerful message of protest and people power are particularly striking in the current climate. Bell’s vocal carries such a weight in it, swinging like an emotional Tarzan on your heartstrings.
With a song title like Lousy Sum of Nothing, it was always a hope this tune would be a tremendous call out track to all those in the world purposefully dispensing negative energy. Again, there are a lot of not so subliminal messages at play here particularly when Erasure address our culture of flippantly being able to switch channels if the news gets a bit too much. Ignorance may be bliss, but Erasure are here to remind you that discomfort is integral when it comes to enacting positive change.
There is clearly a lot of technical & classical skills at play throughout World Beyond, something to absolutely be commended. But from the outset, it just can’t quite stand head and shoulders with the original tracks; which were bursting at the seams with energy. The more hard-hitting tracks really carry this album as a whole, indicative of a band with a great deal of social awareness – using their platform to really vocalise what many feel they are simply able to ignore as it does not directly concern them.