ERASURE The Violet Flame
Still here? After last years disappointing Festive record “Snow Globe”, Erasure return with their first record of all new material in three years, a short and concise “The Violet Flame”. As they always did, the artwork reflects the fact the band are now a home industry, a cottage band for whom the glory days are long away, and the whole thing sounds dated, stuck forever in 2001 – alongside the band's nadir of “Loveboat” - undoubtedly it sounds like Erasure, in terms of writing, in terms of melody lines and songs, but also it sounds like a product of today, where the future no longer is a rarity to come, but is here and now already, in this moment, and the bands previous sonic vision is ten a penny and achievable with a laptop and patience. In many ways, it reinds me of their very early records : 10 songs, no frills, a straightforward set of pop songs. These days none will trouble the charts, but Erasure will, on the other hand, sell a respectable amount of songs to an established fanbase. The days of playing 10 nights at London's Docklands Arena may be long behind them, but then again, many of their then contemporaries enter the same phase, a relatively stable core fanbase and a practical cottage industry that will never conquer the world but carve out a reasonable place within it.
Each of the songs “Promises”, “Reason”, is strong, but none have the smack-me-in-the-chops glory of “Chorus” or the memorable power of “Love To Hate You”. It's as if something is missing, but what?
None of this is reflected in the 2nd disc that comes with the deluxe edition : a shortish 11 song set from Camden Roundhouse in 2011, it features 8 well known hits, and three lesser known deep cuts, showcasing – to me – the brilliance of their pop skills, and particularly, the much unnoticed “Fingers & Thumbs” which is simply one of the finest songs they ever revealed. It's a worthy live set and a welcome addition that bulks out the record to a far more worthwhile release. Overall, “The Violet Flame” is the sound of artists making art because that's what they do without necessarily any particular reason to do so. And there's a different between having something worth saying, and merely saying something.