Erasure

Other People's Songs (Mute)

James Taylor's stab at "Everyday" was just underwhelmingly twee; Andy Bell makes the Buddy Holly tune full-blown gay, which is precisely the point, since few singers are so loud or proud about their sexuality as the Erasure singer. Erasure's "Everyday" plays even sweeter than the original, but not so syrupy the diabetic will need his meds. Sounds like a nice and, let's face it, inevitable idea; Buddy can withstand the makeover and, like, there's nothing wrong with it. But 17 years after Wonderland, Erasure still sounds like a band stuck in the synthesized, synthetic, synful 1980s; there's still no meat on those flimsy Casio bones, no beat to help you break a sweat unless it's over 95 degrees. The music's catchy like a cough but no more permanent, so not one of these covers of tunes made famous by the likes of Elvis, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers lasts longer than it takes to play it, if that. And Bell and Vince Clarke do manage to mangle all hell out of Holly's best tune, "True Love Ways," by rendering it perfectly unctuous. They don't seem to love it at all; if they did, they would have kept hands off.

Erasure's first U.S. release in five years lives up to expectations, if that's what you call them: Bell tears up like every song's his last; Clarke fondles keyboards like every song's his first, with the result sounding like the most earnest brand of discotheque camp this side of a Kylie Minogue video. For every bit of cool-to-the-touch brilliance (the "robot vocals" of "Video Killed the Radio Star"), the duo miss the point by miles; never needed to hear "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" again, especially when it's as soggy as gym shorts. Same goes for "Can't Help Falling in Love"; uh, wanna bet? Still, now that New Order, subject of an enormous yet oddly incomplete boxed set, is hot again, everything old is New Wave again. Can't wait for the revival tour with Book of Love, Bronski Beat, Soft Cell and Jimmy Somerville.

 
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