Armed with just an acoustic guitar, a scant array of instrumental trimmings and Andy Bell’s soulful, soaring voice, synth-pop icons Erasure have taken a complete sonic detour on Union Street. Call it their “unplugged” effort if you will, for the labeling is justified with this surprisingly barebones effort, which was recorded during a quick spurt of inspiration in Brooklyn.
Still, Erasure diehards should heed caution, for Union Street is not a set filled with all-new material, but actually an acoustic reinvention of previously released, lesser-known album tracks and B-sides. Nonetheless, the torch-y samba sway of “Stay with Me” and the watery plucks and harmonics of “Tenderest Moments” resonate with Erasure’s patented theatrical flair, even without the high BPM count.
Multi-instrumentalist Vince Clarke seems to have a field day re-recording his own songs, dropping the digital effects and realizing the stark atmospherics that can be culled from a stripped-down setup. While I’ve never been one to sing the praises of Erasure’s lighter, dare I say, daintier approach to pop — I’ve always instead opted for the brooding minor-chord sounds of Clarke’s former allies in Depeche Mode — Union Street is still a worthy, listenable release that will undoubtedly preempt Erasure’s return to the beat-driven songs that have got them this far.
Still, a little stroll through the uncharted alleyway can be enticing, and surprisingly delightful at times.