Erasure has always released great singles, with good albums attached, but here they have released an album where every song could stand on its own as a single. Andy Bell's vocals perfectly suit Vince Clarke's gorgeous synthesizer washes and melodic hooks.
Side one is anchored by "Chains of Love," a superb dance-floor evocation of gay life in the city. From the wistful, half-spoken opening line, "How can I explain / When there are few words I can choose?" the song takes off into a pounding synthesizer beat that can keep the listener dancing until the end. Also particularly effective on side one are the dance number "A Little Respect" and the pop-oriented "Heart of Stone." The preachy, socially-oriented "Hallowed Ground" is saved by a great melody.
Side two has a grab-bag of interesting songs, from the off-beat rhythm of "Witch in the Ditch" to the soulful "Weight of the World." "Yahoo!" may be the best dance song, with it's gospel-type shout-along chorus. In addition, side two has a heart-breaking, haunting song, the bonus track "When I Needed You." The difference in quality and musicality between this stunning track and any other Erasure ballad is unbelievable. Finally, if Erasure's version of "River Deep-Mountain High" does not work as well as Tina Turner's, as so many critics have carped, how many bands or singers could possibly render a song as well as Ms. Turner? To their credit, Erasure did not try a straight cover of the song, instead adding synthesizer flourishes to create a more dance-oriented song.
The Erasure fan most likely already owns this album. The novice Erasure listener would find this the best place to start. Just about every song would find its rightful place on an Erasure greatest hits album.