Light at the End of the World

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After giving themselves room to roam with an acoustic album, a cover album, solo albums, and a slew of live albums, Erasure return to their comfort zone of distrust, disgust, and despair set mostly to a disco beat with the occasional ballad. Think fan favorite Wild! but with more maturity and depth and you're pretty close to painting a perfect picture of their 2007 effort, Light at the End of the World. It should be noted that the added depth has a lot to do with singer Andy Bell's love affair with complete disclosure, which began with the late-2004 announcement that he had long been HIV positive. Here Bell's cleaning of his closet continues with the key track "Storm in a Teacup," a vivid tale of leaving the dysfunctional nest and the bittersweet taste of freedom that comes afterwards. Bell has been forthcoming in the press that his mother's alcoholism influenced the song, but he keeps growing as a songwriter and is smart enough to make his words adaptable to any strife the listener may have back home. Like "Teacup," "How My Eyes Adore You" and "When a Lover Leaves You" are moving, soft, and could have fallen off 2005's very midtempo Nightbird, but those who found that album too sullen and glum should have no problem with "Sucker for Love," a hands-in-the-air rump bouncer with wonderful Bell declarations like "Without love/I'm not tremendous." Dancefloor-aimed singles "Sunday Girl" and "I Could Fall in Love with You" round out the highlights, sounding like classic Erasure hits with bubbly synths and those smart "I love you but you sometimes drive me crazy" lyrics. If Vince Clarke's music has evolved since Erasure's debut you won't hear it here, but with so many hooks and tight arrangements the album is one of the best "go with what you know" arguments since AC/DC. While Erasure certainly didn't need the "return to form" album at this point in their career, they nailed it and brought better songwriting along for the ride.

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