Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain is the 1986 debut album Wonderland by synth-pop duo Erasure. Will this album be a moment of L’Amour, or will you be asking Who Needs an album Like That? Read on…
The album opens with the wonderful synth intro of single Who Needs Love Like That. This track is ab absolute belter and Vince Clarke’s choice of instruments alongside Andy Bell’s vocals work brilliantly in contrast. The layers of synths and drum machines work a treat, as the bright and high vocals dance around on top with seemingly great ease. It’s a catchy tune but astonishingly, this debut single stalled in the UK chart at #55 in 1985, yet it would hit #10 in 1992 when re-released as part of their Pop! The First 20 Hits collection.
Then it’s Reunion, and the track has a wonderful thumping but simple beat. This is joined of course, a plethora of different synths, accompanied by some really nice vocal harmonies underscoring Andy’s vocals. He’s also joined by female (or is it Andy again?) backing vocalists which compliment things perfectly. There’s a brief moment of what sounds like electro Tudor harpsichord, which is quite fun. This is quite a galloping and catchy track.
Cry So Easy is next, and here Andy’s vocals sound somewhat similar to Vince’s former Yazoo bandmate, Alison Moyet. It’s a nice mellow song, with a strong steady beat. The synths here are nice and simple and crisp, and this allows the focus to sit on the vocals.
Then we’re on to Push Me Shove Me, opening with another deliciously ’80s synth and some high vocals from Andy. The track goes in with the drum machine beats and hand claps, almost as if it’s one of those long Pet Shop Boys mixes. Then, some funky jangling guitar arrives, and Andy turns up on the mic.
Bursting in is second single Heavenly Action, with Andy coming straight in with the vocals ‘Angel made in heaven‘ repeated many times. The track doesn’t really feel like it evolves very much.
Say What follows that and it’s a much more catchy song, aided by some interesting synth moments and a nice plodding melody. Andy makes light work of the vocals, and he’s lifted by some shouty vocals beneath him. It’s a nice track.
Then it’s Love Is A Loser, which despite the title, is a really nice little bouncing and upbeat song. It has a cute little synth instrumental section in the bridge to the chorus, where Andy’s vocals sound quite playful and perfectly pop.
That’s followed by Senseless, and this sounds reminiscent of Who Needs Love Like That thanks to the synth choice in the intro. Aside from that, this is a mid tempo song, with a simple underlying bassy synth. Andy’s vocals are flanked by a range of backing vocal harmonies that add plenty of interest, and I like the descending chord sequence with it.
My Heart… So Blue is up next, and we’re in ballad territory, where Andy gets the chance to show off his heartfelt vocals. He’s set against some angelic vocals. He’s then joined by a simple synth and percussion as his vocals build up emphatic powers. A snare crashes in with a new stronger synth line at 1m 25s, and the song begins to evolve into something that would make even Enya drop a tear. It’s a nice grower.
The mood shifts back to full on pop as we lead on to third single Oh L’amour, but it opens very gently with some fantastic vocals from Andy. When the beat drops and the synths start making moves, it does remind me musically a little of Together In Electric Dreams meets The Smurfs on the GameBoy.
The LP closes with Pistol, and this gives us a musically different sound, with Andy’s vocals sounding brilliant in the vocal intro. Here, he’s joined by some guitars, bass, and percussive drum machines. Andy throws his vocals around perfectly. I could imagine this one getting some thumping remixes. This really should have been a single!
Over all, this album is a great collection of 1980’s tracks, and a strong debut for a brand new synth-pop act (albeit by seasoned musicians).
It’s odd though, that it fared so poorly in the charts. There are plenty of great songs here – led by lead single Who Needs Love By That, but Reunion, Oh L’Amour, and Pistol are all brilliant. There are few weaker songs here though, with single Heavenly Action leading that, and Cry So Easy just feels like a Yazoo leftover.
It’s slick as hell though, and Vince and Andy put in a fantastic performance on keys and vocals respectively, and therefore this album is perfect for any fan of 1980’s pop and synth music… but I’m sure you’ve already heard of Erasure by now. Definitely get this album into your ears.
- POP RESCUE 2023 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1986 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #71
- POP RESCUE COST: 50p from a car boot sale.
Based on all of the Erasure albums that we have reviewed so far, we are able to calculate their average album score as 3.33 out of 5.