PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Erasure: Loveboat

Jason Damas

Erasure

Loveboat

Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2003-06-17
UK Release Date: 2000-10-23
Amazon
iTunes

After a long period of excursions into experimental territory, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke -- the duo that make Erasure -- returned to the bouncy synth-pop confections that they were known for on 2000's Loveboat. The album was only issued in the UK, however, a problem that has been rectified by this new US issue on Mute Records.

Fans who haven't paid attention to Erasure's career since 1990 or so -- and this likely applies to most -- may be somewhat shocked by the music on Loveboat, even as it is being billed as a "return to form". Loveboat is composed primarily of dreamy soundscapes rather than sprightly, uptempo, and catchy dance tracks, and lacks much of the immediacy that made the duo's late '80s work so durable. Clarke and Bell don't sound behind the times -- Loveboat sounds entirely at home in 2000, not 1990 -- but they do sound somewhat bored, finding a gimmick (in this instance dreamy and dubby, bass-heavy beats with gently strummed acoustic guitars layered over the top) and running with it for the course of the entire album. This might not be so bad were it not for the fact that the duo failed to bring any great songs along -- the single (and most accessible cut) "Freedom" may have become a hit in the UK, and it is pretty catchy, but its irritating, gospel-inflected backing vocals make it sound too drippy, even if musically it works fairly well.

"Freedom" sets the pace for most of the disc, where some merely okay songs ("Crying in the Rain", "Where in the World") are balanced next to sub-par material (the sing-songy "Love Is the Rage") and a lot of pretty but easily forgettable dubby filler. The spacious material that forms the bulk of the record may be its selling point -- maybe while Erasure have foregone many of the hooks of their past, they've focused on making pretty soundscapes indebted ever-so-slightly to Brian Eno or even Autechre, albeit with a fuzzy, warm tone. And no one will fault Andy Bell's vocals -- he is in fine voice, turning out a lyrical performance that's as emotional and bold as ever. But as pretty as most of this is, it's nearly impossible to recall any of the individual tracks after it's done playing. Loveboat feels like background music for Sunday mornings rather than dance music for Saturday nights -- and maybe this was the intention -- but it lacks the cool and intriguing twists that mark the best coffee-and-martini-fueled chillout albums. Most of it passes by inoffensively -- in a bad way.

Fans of synth-pop acts like Erasure -- it's okay to admit to liking this stuff nowadays, and I do -- might find something to like, but there are almost a dozen other Erasure albums that they could pick up first, and most of them are frankly better than this. Erasure are an extremely talented and under-appreciated duo, but anyone who gets back on the train now will likely be perplexed by this pretty but unfocused work.

So Loveboat is one for the fans, and the fans are the ones who will still buy Erasure albums in 2003, so that's fair enough. But wouldn't the fans already own this now-3-year-old album on import? Die-hards wouldn't mind swallowing an extra buck or two to get it, so one has to wonder why Mute bothered to push a disc that's past its commercial prime and without any obvious singles in a marketplace where Erasure are already (unfairly) somewhat forgotten.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.