Erasure: Tomorrow's World

Club-thumping forefathers continue to sound pretty good, talk a bunch of nonsense.


Tomorrow's World

Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2011-10-11
UK Release Date: 2011-10-03
Label website
Artist website

Twenty-six years and 14 albums in, you expect certain things from electro-pop legacy duo Erasure. Vince Clarke’s synths will be expertly layered and full of color. Singer Andy Bell will go heavy on the vibrato, like plenty of elegant British men who’d rather be soul divas. And half the lyrics will be truly inane, a mix of placeholding clichés and tone-deaf language. The winner of Most Cringeworthy Couplet on Tomorrow’s World is this bizarre little number, from “Then I Go Twisting”:

Think I’m going schizo / I bury my head in sand

I live in a disco / You’ve such a machismo hand.

Forget your everyday run-of-the-mill complaints about daft pop lyrics -- “Who talks like that?”, or, “Since when is ‘machismo’ an adjective?” Such complaints cannot fathom the depths of meaninglessness in Erasure’s lyrics. I’d call those lines “decadent”, except decadence usually requires some work. Erasure’s lyrics make the Dave Clark Five’s 1965 club banger “Over and Over” (“Everybody there was there!”) sound like an ontological manifesto.

So thank goodness they’re catchy. In that department, Tomorrow’s World is their most consistent batch of songs since 2005’s Nightbird, or maybe even 1997’s Cowboy. Its peaks aren’t as high as those albums’ standouts -- there's no “Don’t Say You Love Me” or “Rain” here -- but most of these nine songs have big choruses that sneak into your head, sometimes against your better judgment. At first, lead single “When I Start To (Break It All Down)” seemed as unnecessary as its parentheses, but somehow I still wake up singing the thing.

The third guy responsible for all this catchiness is English Erasure disciple Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik, a nuevo-disco dude who’s currently getting some club play with his own song, “Do It in the AM”. Frankmusik produced Tomorrow’s World, which is sort of like Jack White producing Loretta Lynn, and it’s difficult to suss out the dividing line between his contributions and Clarke’s. Most likely, Frank pushed the duo’s music to sound more like contemporary disco. With their thick synth stabs and woomph-woomph-woomph-woomph beats, several of these songs nod towards the galloping Euro-stomps that currently clog the charts in both America and the U.K. Since this is Erasure, though, there’s a depth and delicacy to the keyboards that you don’t hear in, say, LMFAO.

Sometimes that depth and delicacy comes with a price. Since Clarke has been making music for so long, he’s exhausted his supply of cool synth settings at least twice, which leads to some unexpectedly naff effects this time out. “I Lose Myself” starts out sounding fiery and ominous, with Bell singing, “I’m not concerned about the bitch I’ve been / They sure must have all deserved it”. It’s fairly galvanizing stuff -- until an incongruous smooth jazz “guitar” solo breaks the mood. The funniest effect comes right up front: at the beginning of album opener “Be with You”, Clarke, like many of us, has apparently been seduced by the dulcet tones of the pan flute. It’s like he just returned from an arts and crafts expo. Fortunately, after a few seconds, the 4x4 Euro-disco kicks in, so even if you’re put off by passages of New Age-y noodling, don’t worry: it guettas better.

Highlights include the whistling, stutter-stepping beauty “Fill Us with Fire”, the soul-gospel experiment “You’ve Got to Save Me Right Now”, and especially “A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot”, which has nothing to do with Led Zep or Def Lep but rocks nearly as hard. For once the lyrics, about an ill-fated actress in a car accident, are creepy and evocative, plus they do not bore us and they get to the chorus. Probably thanks to Mr. Frankmusik, Bell’s vocals are autotuned into shrieky pitches of syncopated rage, until he finally sounds like one very angry and heartbroken machine. “Riot” is totally modern and totally Erasure-ish, and it demonstrates that, while these guys might be elder statesmen, they hardly belong in an old folks’ club.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.