I’m no expert on the band Erasure (though their Hits: The Very Best of Erasure CD is in a regular rotation both in my car and on my computer at work), and I think that’s the reason I’m just not all that impressed with their latest CD, Union Street. Famous for their synthesized pop sound, Erasure has now released this all-acoustic album with a new take on 11 of their previous songs.
Of all 11, I had only heard one previously (“Stay With Me”) and this new version is easily my favorite track on Union Street. Here the song maintains its strong melancholic rock feel but integrates an almost Celtic background sound that really pops. As for the rest of the album, there are a few other good tracks, but by and large, it’s a bit of a snooze.
Is it a coincidence that my favorite track is a redo of a song I already was very familiar with? See, that’s why I think Union Street left me a little cold: perhaps these acoustic renditions necessitate familiarity with the original songs to really appreciate them. I like the original “Stay With Me” song and I think might even like the acoustic version better. What I enjoyed most was how the familiar song caught me off guard with the new acoustic touches. I can’t help but think that had I been familiar with the other tracks before listening to Union Street, I might have had the same reaction to their new versions as well.
I enjoy tracks like “Tenderest Moments” and “Alien” but with both I feel like I’m missing something when I listen to them. It’s a bit frustrating. Ideally, a redo of a song should still be able to stand on its own, much the same way a parody should be able to still illicit a chuckle without the audience having intimate knowledge of the target subject. Familiarity with the original song (or parodied subject) should amplify the enjoyment the audience gets from the experience, but it shouldn’t be the main make-or-break factor involved.
The CD’s first track, “Boy,” is fantastic. That along with “Stay With Me” make two exemplary tracks that I’ve already ripped onto iTunes for regular play both at home and at work, but they’re the only two so far to achieve that “keeper” designation. The rest of the CD, though there aren’t any particularly bad tracks, just doesn’t really stand out.
Again, perhaps if I already had some kind of mental imprint of the other songs going in, perhaps they would have “stayed with me” after listening to Union Street, I suppose if someone was a huge fan of Erasure with knowledge of their full catalog, I could recommend a listen, but I’d be hesitant to recommend Union Street for anyone else to take a chance on purchasing.