This album is 15 years old(!), but has aged fairly well. After they hit their stride with The Circus and The Innocents, Erasure became hugely popular in the U.S. (at least, among lovers of New Wave/Postmodern music) with Wild! Vince Clarke, in one of the interviews on the 2nd disc of the Hits! DVD said that he wanted Erasure to be remembered as great songwriters. On Wild!, there are a lot of great songs, with inspired lyrics and killer hooks.
If Erasure is only remembered for a couple of songs, Blue Savannah deserves to be one of them (A Little Respect would be the other choice). A friend of mine in high school said that she felt chills up her spine when she first heard the album version of the song. On the radio, the beginning part, with Andy humming/crooning, was cut. I was really stunned when she told me this, because that's exactly what happened to me the first time I heard the album version! Part of the bliss of Erasure is that a song with such an obscure title as Blue Savannah could be one of their greatest hits.
After the euphoria of Blue Savannah come the high of Drama! In my mind, this is perhaps the most "operatic" of Erasure's songs. Aside from the aggressive energy created by the synthesizers, there is the "guilty" chorus, which reminds me of opera. Too bad another reviewer here finds it distracting; I find it to be pure genius! Equally as thrilling are the lyrics, such as, "God only knows the ultimate necessity of love." Sadly, this song didn't get airplay in the U.S., since it rates among their very best.
After the thrilling Drama! comes How Many Times, which is quite the opposite in mood. Another personal favorite, it has Andy singing in a lower register, which produces a "seductive" mood. The song itself, though, is very melancholy and nostalgic in tone. Next follows Star, which is another stroke of genius. As most people know, this song is about the atomic bomb. For me, though, it also is critical of televangelism, and the era of Jim and Tammy Faye, with their pleas for "Love Gifts" by mail, among other things. Their humorous treatment of both topics is the essence of Camp, something Erasure understands quite well. Even the music is campy, galloping along, like a horse in the Wild West.
After so many successes, Erasure misfires with the cringe-worthy La Gloria. This song is embarrassing in so many ways, where do I begin? The music is stupid. It could be taken for a joke, except that they pushed too far. If you want a comparison, Madonna's song I'm Going Bananas is kind of similar to this, but hers is more tolerable. Furthermore, it could be labled as racist, except that I truly believe that Vince and Andy are not racists. In short, it is a caricature that makes you wince. Why this made the cut for the album, and Supernature didn't, is beyond me!!!
Thankfully, you can skip over this song, and enjoy the rest of the album, which lives up to the success of the first half. You Surround Me is another single that got no airplay, but is one of their most sensual. Unlike How Many Times, the mood is not only evoked by Andy singing in a lower register. This time, the lyrics help drive the point home. I like the line, "I love you with all the joy of living, 'til the lights go down in NYC..." Another classic.
Brother and Sister is another turbo-charged track, the "Drama!" of the second half of Wild! That computer voice saying "rocket" at the beginning is wonderful. Like Drama!, it is also very operatic in nature. The lyrics are rather cryptic, in a good way. It's almost post-apocalypic, which is interesting, because if you really think about it, a recurring theme throughout the album is the nuclear age.
What follows next is 2000 Miles, which is rather shocking in its acid tone, very different from most Erasure songs. Take, for example, the line "don't go beating me like that, I won't be coming back". What makes the song great is that, for it being so nihilistic, Erasure still throws some camp in for good measure. One example is the "whoo, whoo" sound after Andy says he won't be waiting at the railroad station. Another is Andy singing the "na na na" from Heart of Glass, the Blondie classic, at the end of the song, as it is fading out!
Crown of Thorns maximizes the gloom-and-doom theme. Another seemingly post-apocalyptic song, it spells out a bleak future for England.
The album ends with Piano Song, which I'm sure was a working title that they tried to rename, but couldn't really come up with any other title that worked. Compared to the synth feel of most of the album, it is elegantly spare, a remorseful, eloquent song, sung in an emotional manner.
For all of these reasons, Wild! captures Erasure at the height of their creative powers.