Review: “Nightbird” by Erasure (CD, 2005)

Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 2005 11th studio album Nightbird by British synth-pop duo Erasure. Will this album sing a beautiful song, or should it fly off and bother someone else? Read on…

Erasure - Nightbird (2005) album cover
Erasure – Nightbird (2005) album

This 11 track CD opens with some robotic sounds of No Doubt before the track gives way to a wash of Andy Bell’s vocals. Instantly his vocals are familiar, as a simple electronic beat bounces along in the background. Andy’s vocals are strong and layered here, and he gets to show off his power with plenty of reverb. The song flows wonderfully, gently, and has a heavenly sound to it thanks to the backing vocals.

The tempo is up a bit for next track Here I Go Impossible Again. The track was released as the third and final but double-A side single from the album. Again, Andy’s vocals effortlessly layer warm but downbeat lyrics. The Vince Clarke wall of sound beams delightfully throughout, guiding Andy onwards. This nice track sadly stalled at #25 in the UK singles chart, and deserved better.

That’s followed by Let’s Take One More Rocket To The Moon, and so far that warm wave of familiar Erasure sound continues here. A flurry of bleeps at the end of a chorus instantly teases my memories Love To Hate You, but this song is far more mellow that that. Vince wields his synths with the expertise you’d expect, as Andy’s voice really delivers a flawless set of melancholy vocals that befit this gentle track.

Lead single Breathe is up next, and this track gives us a bit more energy. Andy’s vocals are once again strong and clear, showing off his range perfectly. The chorus really feeds us a catchy song that will have you singing along soon after hearing it. Breathy vocals join in as the song continues to build up, resulting in a really strong track. Thankfully, Erasure were rewarded for the track, giving them a #4 UK hit, the lofty heights of which they’d not seen for about 9 years.

Plodding synths lead us into next song I’ll Be There. The tempo picks up again, and a simple drum machine bass drum and hissing hi-hat ensure that the track races along. Synth leads bounce around Andy’s brighter vocals. The beat continues to weave its way throughout ensuring that along with the bubbling synths, the track feels catchy and up-beat.

Because Our Love Is Real is next, and takes the tempo down for a love song. Here, Andy sounds a little downbeat again, singing ‘sometimes I don’t feel well, emotional, I fall under your spell’ and other lyrics about his need for love and support to make him feel better or happier, but it is still bright and optimistic as the song’s narrative evolves as Andy’s vocals lean towards the hope that he finds. It’s a really nice little song.

That’s followed by Don’t Say You Love Me which stood as the other half of the third and final double-A side single. Breathy robotic vocals start us off, but a thudding bass drum fades in, as Andy takes the mic properly. This track was the album’s second single giving them a moderate hit at #15 in the UK singles chart. Andy’s vocals get to soar here wonderfully, and you suddenly realise once again that you’re transported to those familiar 80’s and 90’s Erasure heights. This is a great track and deserved more success.

All This Time Still Falling Out Of Love follows, with a kind of spacey drift before the dance beat arrives. Andy’s vocals are confident, and the offset with backing vocalist Jill Walsh works perfectly, particularly in the mid-section whilst Vince goes for it in commanding layers and layers of bleeping and gurgling synths. The end result is an up-beat, catchy track that deserved more attention as a single.

Next is the mid-tempo I Broke It All In Two, and whilst this is another wash of wonderful vocals and synths from Andy, Vince and Jill, this is another slightly downbeat track. Still, it works well, and it sounds great. ‘My heart’s not made of wood, though it seems to be that way’ Andy sings.

Sweet Surrender is next, and thankfully not a cover of the Wet Wet Wet song. Instead, this is a fairly simple track, although with a bazillion synths underscoring Andy’s vocals. It’s a nice enough song, but it feels a bit weaker alongside the others here.

The album closes with I Bet You’re Mad At Me. A swell of synths surround Andy, again with the contrasting backing vocals helping to lift the tenderness in his voice in the chorus. The musical track keeps back just enough to really let his voice really take command here. The result is a really nice sounding track, with a really warm vocal, and a great closing to this album.

Erasure’s lead single ‘Breathe’

Verdict

Over all, this is a wonderful return for Erasure, and fans of their earlier sound should not be disappointed here.

Yes, there’s not a load of thumping hits that you may have learned to expect from them over the years, but what you do get is a wonderfully rich sounding collection of tracks.

Andy’s vocals reach everywhere you’d want them to get to, and they also lead us into darker places that maybe you’re not so used to hearing him go.

The melancholiness felt throughout this album may come from the emotional richness a lyricist gets when life treats them harder. Prior to the release of this album, Andy had confirmed to the media his HIV status. Who knows what pressure he must have been under to have to confirm or deny such a personal thing. Welcome to 2004!

No Doubt, Breathe, and Don’t Say You Love Me, and All This Time… are my highlights here, and it’s not until the penultimate track Sweet Surrender until I heard a weaker song.

This is the Erasure that you knew or know and loved, they’re just a little bit older, wiser, and slightly slower. Definitely give this a listen – it sounds fantastic.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 2005 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #27
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.80 from an eBay seller.

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