After reading all the pre-release hype surrounding Erasure's "return to form" on their new cd Nightbird, I was torn. The cynic in me thought the finished product would amount to just that - hype. The optimist ( and Erasure lover ) in me was filled with a mixture of excitement and just a little bit of resentment, because I never thought Erasure "went away". Sure, they experimented with their trademark sound and their songwriting, to mostly negative reception from critics and fans alike. But there were MANY sterling moments on their Nineties albums, especially on I Say I Say I Say, Erasure ( my personal favourite ) and Cowboy. They haven't had a Top Forty hit in well over a decade here, and I doubt that will ever change, seeing our radio charts clogged with teen pop, rap, and mindless novelty dance hits. I am happy to say this album is a keeper, despite ( or perhaps because of ) the fact that most of the songs are ballads or have a nice bouncey mid-tempo. One or two songs step up to a bit of a dance beat, but the minor key melodies and somber lyrics keep them from falling squarely into the Hi NRG camp. Although Nightbird is lacking anything as Hi-NRG as STOP! or DRAMA!, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I personally thought those two songs were a bit over the top, the vocals verging on hysterics. This CD sounds great, in regard to the instrumentation, the production and mixing. Nicely layered but subtle. And it thankfully doesn't have that "LO-FI" indie sound that very nearly - literally - sank Loveboat, their last album of original material, which was full of great songs but sounded awful ( I STILL blame producer Flood for that mess ) . The vocals are warm, rich and considerd. Very adult, and not over the top or showy. Lyrically Erasure have never strayed too far from love songs, and Nightbird is no exception. Sentimental, but not sappy. Very well done, gentlemen. And congratulations on your return to the British Top 5 with the first single "Breathe." I'd go over my list of what I consider highlights, but you know how that goes. What I might like or dislike is not necessarily what someone else would like or dislike. But I can say this: If you were a fan of Erasure in the early days but were turned off by their forays into ambient experiments, or their try at simplistic, lo-fi synth and acoustic guitar songs, or the mixed-results covers album, please do yourself a favour and give Nightbird a listen. Borrow a friend's copy. Or just go out and buy it. I think you'll like it.