Total Pop! Deluxe Box


Mute, 2009

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Looking at the number of songs on this box set, it is astonishing not only that Erasure has had so many hit singles, but also that the band still exists and makes music. Although hardly as talked about as some of their more popular synth-pop siblings from the New Wave era, Erasure has incessantly been spawning great pop songs, steadily and quietly since the mid-‘80s.

While most of the surviving synth-pop acts have sought dramatic metamorphoses as an ingredient to survive and thrive into the ensuing decades, Erasure has stayed almost the same, which the chronologically arranged music on discs one and two of this box set show. With not much stylistic difference between the band’s music today and from years past, it is as if Erasure never felt the pangs of change as much as others of their generation did.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sweet and sugary numbers of love and heartache roam abound in Erasure’s uncomplicated little world, which has no room for playing the Messiah or Satan. Sometimes, the comfort of not having to change and still be relevant can get more painful than accepting the throes of transformation, especially when your career spans more than two decades, but not for this band.

What Erasure lacks in concept, it makes up in content. Vince Clarke is a master musician. He can never tire of churning out sunny uplifting pop songs that are forever vibrant. And in Clarke’s beautifully created musical world, Andy Bell provides the perfect soul. His charmingly shy vocals hardly receive the praise they deserve. His naïveté and playfulness give the perfect emotional vulnerability to this band’s bubbly numbers and make them so timeless.

For those first-time believers or longtime admirers, this set includes a live CD of songs compiled from different tours, which testifies that this band can be just as exciting outside of the studio as in it.

The fourth part of the set, the DVD, is another story. If the sole purpose of this DVD is to catch Bell lip-sync to playbacks looking as awkward as if he had swallowed a live bird or to watch the slumbering Clarke disastrously trying to make-believe that he is strumming out the entire canned music on his acoustic guitar, then it is a winner. This DVD of outright bizarre pseudo-performances of the band on various BBC shows (like the long-running Top Of The Pops) is horrid to say the least. The supposed “bonus material” is more such performances and additional nauseating entertainment.

The companion book, on the other hand, rich in brilliant artwork from the different periods of the band’s career as well as interviews and other knickknacks, is sweet.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mute, and is used for informational purposes only.