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Erasure perfected their synth-pop/dance sound in the mid-'80s, and over the course of the next decade and a half they continued within that structure. By 1997's Cowboy, the band lost some of their melodic sense in exchange for the techno dance trip. It is nice to say that on this release Erasure went back to doing what they do best: strong melodic pop music full of angst and pain. There's no real experimentation, just the old form of songwriting. This will not win new fans, but it might win back those few who were turned off by the group's dive into techno. Since 1997, Vince Clarke has collaborated on two experimental projects: 1999's Clarke & Ware Experiment with Martin Ware of Heaven 17 fame and the Family Fantastic album. Neither were too successful, but they did provide platforms for Clarke to expand his writing and playing beyond the pop song format. His return is very much welcomed. Andy Bell's voice has never sounded better, and as usual it fits the music perfectly. A strong album, with some of the best songs they have ever produced (including the wonderful "Freedom" and "Surreal"), this is a classic sounding Erasure album, and it could not be better.

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