Erasure, Union Street

Electro-pop duo Erasure's latest offering was recorded in the heart of Brooklyn, N.Y and was named Union Street after the little studio apartment it was conceived in. While some fans may scoff at the idea, the record was recorded completely unplugged. On paper, this concept sounds like a great idea, but it would have been even more exciting (especially for diehard fans) if vocalist Andy Bell and instrumentalist Vince Clarke actually wrote some new material as opposed to revamping older, lesser-known album tracks and B-sides. That's not to say that Union Street should be ignored, because it's really a touching collection of wide-eyed, love-will-conquer-all balladry. It's remarkable how well these keyboard-heavy songs adapt to simple nylon-stringed and pedal steel guitars with swirls of orchestra and choir — truly a testament to Erasure's strong pop songwriting sensibilities. But in the end, it's Bell's dynamic, intimate and heartfelt vocals that shine through, particularly on key tracks "Boy," "Tenderest Moments" and "How Many Times." Overall, there are some tracks here that are a bit syrupy for my taste, but diehard fans should get more than a few spins out of Union Street, but for those who are merely curious about the band, it would be better to start with 2003's greatest hits album instead. (Mute)

Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

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