Back in the band's commercial peak, Andy and Vince were releasing albums at a rate of almost one a year. Things have slowed down somewhat since the turn of the century and it was after a four year hiatus, the longest in the band's history, that Tomorrow's World was released in October 2011. The previous year had seen the release of Andy's second solo album Non-Stop, which is a very dance floor heavy sounding project and some of that contemporary sound has been applied to Tomorrow's World too. This is in no small part down to producer Frankmusik, who wasn't even born when Erasure's first single hit the charts. The album gets off to a flyer with Be With You. From the opening whimsical notes, the song soon explodes into an extremely up-beat and infectious little tune and one that was a favourite for me after just one listen. The last few "when I come running" lines don't quite hit the spot and the song feels too short (leaving you wanting more) but it's still a quality track. As is the delightful Fill Us With Fire. Although the chorus isn't the strongest, the song is still very contagious and uplifting and the production is crisp and accomplished throughout. If you're a religious person, you might find one of the lines doesn't sit too well with you though.
There's a smart moment, in "Then I Go Twisting" when Bell sings, "Then I go insane, bored of this modern town/ Sick of this techno monophonic sound...". It's as if Erasure are saying to their less sophisticated successors: this is how you do it.The Independent
The majestic What Will I Say When You're Gone? is next and is a haunting, emotive classic. It doesn't sound like any other Erasure song from their past and here Frankmusik's production really shines. There's quiet moments of beauty and then powerful trance-like synths over a drum and bass beat. A terrific song and definitely one of the best on the album. You've Got To Save Me Right Now follows, and this track was originally earmarked to be the first single from the album before the band had a change of heart. The arrangement in the verses feels a little lightweight and simple, but overall the song blossoms into a catchy and soulful track. This is assisted by the London Community Gospel Choir providing backing vocals, but they feel underused and if I hadn't known the song had a choir on it, I wouldn't have noticed from listening to it. The impact is nowhere near as profound as the use of choirs on other tracks such as So The Story Goes or Rock Me Gently. Perhaps lacking the kick the track has when performed live (it was debuted in the Total Pop! Tour before the album was released), it is still a fine, if short, album track. The album takes a new direction with A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot, which is a song about a female celebrity who goes off the rails. This is one of the tracks where Frankmusik's influence is especially apparent - this is a contemporary sounding dance track. The melody, especially in the chorus, is very catchy but some of the vocal and synth effects/echos are clichéd and sound like the sort of thing you'd expect on a Ministry Of Sound compilation from the 1990s. The song's conclusion is also a complete mess (with stuttering that sounds like there is dirt on your CD) and is very reminiscent of Frankmusik's Phantom Bride remix (in other words, not my cup of tea in the slightest).
The album's lead single When I Start To (Break It All Down) gets the album back on track. The arrangement is one of the strongest on the album, with pulsating strings and beautiful flute style synths in the verses/bridges before the powerful chorus and soaring middle-eight. Musically exceptionally polished, vocally the song isn't quite as strong. The falsetto chorus isn't as gratifying as it could be (Andy really feels he's working too hard to deliver, rather than his vocals being effortless) and the Melodyne (a similar effect to auto-tune) is grating. Despite these shortcomings, it is still a fine song. I Lose Myself is very much a traditional Erasure track that has been beefed up to sound completely at home with other electronic music from 2011. Vince's trademark magic is more apparent here than on some other tracks on the album, although Frankmusik's work is also very evident. The anthemic chorus and soaring melodies throughout make for another fine Erasure song.
Then I Go Twisting is another dancey track, with Andy's lyrics being about going crazy living in a dull town. The fine sinister opening bass line belies what's to come as the song descends into a generic dance song full of repetitive vocal effects. The are some pretty poor lyrics in this song too, with some rhyming couplets feeling especially clumsy. This is a song that is likely to split the fans in a similar way to Moon & The Sky - and you have probably ascertained what side of the fence I'm on. Not one of my favourites that's for sure. The regular single-CD edition of the album concludes with the ballad Just When I Thought It Was Ending. Andy's vocals are strong and the arrangement is sound, if a little watered down in places, and you'll be humming the melody in the chorus after you finished listening but overall it's a pleasant if unspectacular track.
Fans' Best/Worst Of
- Be With You
- Fill Us With Fire
- When I Start To (Break It All Down)
- Give Me Life
- What Will I Say When You're Gone?
Shot To The Heart is the album's tenth track. Initially an iTunes exclusive track, this song is not produced by Frankmusik and it feels somewhat incongruous as it doesn't fit with what's gone before, but it's still an agreeable, bouncy little tune. It has a b-side feel to the production, which sounds a little tinny, although the CD version of this track found on the Fill Us With Fire single does sound slightly better. Nice, but by no means essential. The deluxe double-CD edition of the album is also home to another song entitled Give Me Life. At a length of 5 minutes it's by far the longest song on the album and this is achieved by a lot of repetition. The arrangement is very intriguing though, from a Vangelis-esque opening to a stomping, industrial vibe into the chorus. Quite unlike any previous Erasure song, it's interesting and epic, although not the most melodic track you'll ever hear.
The double CD edition is also home to a collection of remixes and demos. Long-time Erasure producer Gareth Jones provides excellent extended remixes of both I Lose Myself and Fill Us With Fire and Frankmusik provides a subdued remix of When I Start To (Break It All Down) complete with plenty of vocal distortion. Four album tracks also see their demo versions included, with their working titles used: Clash (I Lose Myself) is pretty close to its completed version although the chorus sees Andy singing in a lower register; Big Song (Fill Us With Fire) likewise isn't vastly different from the final mix; Major 7th (Be With You) feels a little paltry but is still full of charm and Save Me (You've Got To Save Me Right Now) is more ethereal and less soulful than the finished article. These demos are interesting and show how the songs evolved, but unless you are a hardcore fan these tracks are unlikely to appeal a great deal.
Tomorrow's World is definitely a step forward in terms of sound and production from 2007's Light At The End Of The World and is home to some of the most unique Erasure tracks the band has ever recorded. Frankmusik's production on the whole is fresh and modern, however he is sometimes guilty of too many generic drum sounds and conventional trance-like synths. Andy's vocals are also molested on several tracks and whilst effects like Melodyne have been used stylistically rather than to correct bum notes, in most instances they are unwelcome. At just over 31 minutes, the standard edition of the album is also the band's shortest ever and the quality, whilst high in general, does dip on more than one occasion. But when Tomorrow's World gets it right (and it does so most of time) it does so brilliantly. Inventive and different, it's an album definitely worth checking out.
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