[sic] Magazine

Erasure – Total Pop

I wonder what the point of this is. Erasure appear to be celebrating their 23rd anniversary with their third best of compilation: following on from 1992’s Pop! and 2003’s Best of, comes 2009’s Total Pop!. And how does Total Pop differ from the other ones? What’s the point of buying it? Well, if you buy everything Erasure put out, there really isn’t any point. And Erasure haven’t done that much stuff since the last hits album, so if you buy this, you get 6 singles that haven’t been on any previous hits album…, and 34 that already have.

The big draw apparently is “remastering”; which presumably means bumping and distorting the signal so it’s loud and clipped. Whoopee doo.

Anyway, Total Pop! is the only Erasure compilation you or anyone need buy: every single in order of release in the single versions. Disc 1 replicates the 1992 ‘Pop’, and Disc 2 covers the singles from 1994-2009. It is odd that in the first 7 years they had as many hits as they have in the next fifteen. And, that Vince Clarke said he left Depeche Mode because he didn’t want to be in videos dressed as a cowboy – yet went on in the first Erasure video to be… a cowboy.

Notwithstanding the presumed deal-recouping motives for this release, ‘Total Pop!’ offers great value for money and more Erasure hits than you can shake a stick at. For some reason I have never quite been able to fathom, despite sharing a lineage with Depeche Mode and Mute, Erasure never seemed to progress to these ears beyond a relatively superficial artistic entity. Their relentless optimism, and lyrical simplicity never provided them with a depth that I hope for from artists I truly adore, and instead, Erasure became a band that in doses of hit singles were certainly a cut far above the average, but never taken to my heart.

An Erasure template is relatively straight forward: bundle up a bunch of retro synths (or originals from the early 80’s with custom settings), set the bass to bouncy, put in a 4/4 drumbeat, sweeping strings and keys that sound like they last met oxygen vacuum-sealed in 1983, and let Andy Bell loose over it. There’s no denying the melodic gifts the band have, or their abilities to stage a show, but realistically, aside from minor-selling, and little noticed, more subdued songs at occasional points in their later years, but Erasure are a band that, by design or not, found themselves victims of their own formula, painting themselves into a corner as purveyors of upbeat, retro disco pop, and found that they couldn’t escape when they tried. Over time, as 1992’s ‘Pop’ made buying their actual albums largely redundant, and as the world changed around them, Erasure stayed unswervingly on their course. Consistency is admirable, but over time, they became predictable, and failed to evolve. ‘Total Pop!’ is the only Erasure record you need, a non-stop avalanche of unforgettable pop classics from a band that remains frozen forever at a certain point in time.



For more from Mark please visit The Mark Reed website