Total Pop! The First 40 Hits

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Since their singles have always been as well chosen as they were well crafted, Total Pop! The First 40 is top-shelf Erasure the whole way through, displaying the evolution of the synth pop band through representative singles. The set is so no-frills that the first disc is actually the 1992 collection Erasure Pop! The First 20 Hits in total. With "Who Needs Love (Like That)," "Oh l'Amour," "Love to Hate You," and a slew of other big hits, it's nearly perfect and the more recognizable of the two discs, but those above casual fan status will get more use out of the second disc, where the band's later (aka lesser-known) years are well sorted. "Always," "Stay with Me," and "Sunday Girl" are disc two's big hits, "Always" getting two airings with the second being a slight remix. More difficult and esoteric albums like Cowboy and Nightbird are shown in the best light here as the band grows not just older but wiser, although the occasional youthful flourish proves Erasure could still create bold club music when the mood struck. Those wanting a little more than the basics should check the Deluxe Box edition of Total Pop!, which adds a live disc plus a DVD of the duo's mostly flamboyant performances on the BBC television network.

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