Erasure

Union Street

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

With live albums, remix albums, and even an all-covers album in their back catalog, Erasure have utilized every stopgap device known to man except the unplugged album, until now. With plenty of dobro, strings, pedal steel, and nylon string guitars, Union Street is a soft, all-acoustic affair. While that may seem an uninspired choice after the excellent and purposeful Nightbird -- or downright ridiculous since they are a dancefloor-filling synth duo at the core -- the oddball song selection and elegant arrangements are surprising enough to believe this is more than a cash-in or by-the-numbers release. Instead of unplugging "Love to Hate You," "Oh l'Amour," or any of the other club hits that have made an impact past their core audience, Erasure have chosen album tracks and B-sides, most dealing with heartbreak, and a handful dealing with hope. It's a limited listen, made worse by the front-loading of the best tracks. "Boy," "Piano Song," and "Stay with Me" all sound renewed and vital, but as the album progresses, the songs get cluttered with strumming and string arrangements that don't serve the tunes as well as they should. As melodies get lost in this pastoral jumble, familiarity with the original tracks helps a lot, suggesting the album would make a better fanclub release than a general one. If approached in that casual manner, a longtime Erasure fan will get twice, maybe three times as much more out of Union Street than the merely curious will.

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