World Be Gone
Over the years Erasure have written several songs influenced by politics, covering topics ranging from Thatcherism to the Gulf War, but have never gone as far as creating an entire politically charged album. Although World Be Gone isn't quite a protest album in the strictest sense, it's the closest thing the band have come to recording one, with the Donald Trump presidency and Brexit Zeitgeist influencing the general mood of proceedings. Opening track and lead single Love You To The Sky however, sees the band sticking with familiar territory and is very much a pop song, with tribal percussion and a catchy chorus. The track is a little too generic and by the numbers for my liking but a strong melody and rich arrangement help to gloss over any weaknesses. It's the most up-tempo track on the album by far - the rest of the album comes at a far slower pace. This shift in mood starts with the ethereal Be Careful What You Wish For!, which is a rhythmic warning song about the pitfalls of human nature. Layered both vocally and musically it sets up the tone for the rest of the album nicely – this is not an saccharine collection of songs. World Be Gone is next and is a powerful masterpiece. The shimmering, echoing synths sounds in the verses, the lush and poignant chorus and Andy's beautifully pitched vocals all help this track to soar amongst the band's finest ever efforts. Lyrically strong, with a plea for Man to make amends, this achingly beautiful composition is testament to the band's unrivalled quality after three decades writing together.
There are songs about world politics, and the overall tenor is much more reflective if not sombre. It still comes as some surprise that on virtual every song, Clarke and Bell pull goodies out of the bag... Thirty-plus years after they first formed and they're still delivering quality material? Other music acts of similar vintage, take note.The Business Post
Next up is A Bitter Parting, a song that is driven by percussion which resembles a heart-beat. Despite the song's title, the song doesn't convey bitterness and is instead forgiving in its tone. There are some nice layered vocals and it's another mood track like with much of the album - you won't be dancing to this track. Nor will you be dancing to the sublime Still It's Not Over. A haunting and touching Moby-like piano arrangement drives this protest song about the troubles faced by gay rights activists with despair that their plight is still ongoing. Wondrous lush counter melody backing vocals reminiscent of I Say I Say I Say are perfectly pitched, but are slightly blighted by the overly distorted production. Powerful, moving and defiant but never preachy, it's an excellent song. The slow and reflective pace continues with Take Me Out Of Myself. Home to more beautiful layered vocals, the track is more sombre and considered than the live acoustic version the band debuted in Birmingham in 2016. Vince's understated arrangement is somewhat similar to some tracks from Snow Globe tracks and has a sweet, lullaby quality to it. Not an instant classic, but definitely a grower. Sweet Summer Loving follows and has more punch (although it's still very much a slow-tempo song), with its defiant, rhythmic, chant-like chorus. Lyrically the song's theme is about love, but the somewhat repetitive lyrics don't detract from this being a decent track.
Onge's Best/Worst Of
- Lousy Sum Of Nothing
- World Be Gone
- Still It's Not Over
- A Bitter Parting
- Love You To The Sky
The dark, foreboding Oh What A World is next which starts with a synth sound that resembles an alarm and this uneasy tone continues throughout. Andy's almost robotic vocals are unlike any other Erasure track with the song having a Depeche Mode vibe to it. The lyrics lament the state of the world, and particularly politics, over another wonderfully restrained arrangement. It's a strong track which takes a few listens to really start to fully appreciate. Next up is the majestic Lousy Sum Of Nothing which opens with a ticking sound and knell which musically seems to reference the Doomsday Clock. Lyrically, this song is a real protest at the injustices in the world, with Andy's all too real despair at public apathy and media manipulation. But it is the epic, masterful chorus that elevates this song to sit with their all-time greats - it's a powerful, epic beast and emphatically shows that the band are still very much at the top of their game after all this time. Just A Little Love concludes the album and along with the album's opening track, is the only remotely up-tempo and dance-floor friendly song on the album. Whilst other tracks have been downbeat in their tone, this track is more uplifting, if laced with some caution. The lyrics in the verses are somewhat sombre despite the chirpy arrangement but the chorus offers hope. It really feels like the listener has been on a journey listening to the album and that this track offers the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a real triumph, as a standalone track and as an album conclusion.
World Be Gone is a mature and reflective album, one that makes a statement about the state of global affairs in 2017. Whilst often downbeat and sombre, it's achingly touching whilst never being depressing or devoid of hope. It's one of their most significant albums and one that deserves a wide audience, not least being it challenges the political climate rather than trying to sweep it under the carpet. There are some missteps with the production, especially with the vocals which can sound a tad distorted at times, and as a result World Be Gone could have benefited from an outside producer instead of being self-produced. There are few instantly gratifying melodies and the album is almost made up entirely of slow-tempo tracks with minimal percussion, but it's an album that stays with you when you've finished listening to it. A real grower, World Be Gone is sombre, thought-provoking and beautiful.
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