After the critical panning received by Other People's Songs, the band returned to form in style with Nightbird, their first album of original songs for five years. No Doubt is a great album opener: Andy's vocals are superbly pitched on this gospel sounding ballad with Vince providing a lush, sweeping musical backdrop. A terrific opening to the album. The first of many long-titled tracks, Here I Go Impossible Again, follows. The song is about having a fight with your partner in order to kiss and make up later. This track is excellently paced and has an extremely memorable melody resulting in a fine overall listening experience. The sublime Let's Take One More Rocket To The Moon is next up. The track is an epic vocal delight with Andy having rarely sounded better as he sings his sweet, lovelorn lyrics. Vince's arrangement reflects the sentiment of the lyrics perfectly allowing the lullaby nature of the song to shine through. A stunning song.
The pair may be one of the most mismatched odd couples in pop, but their chemistry here - whether on the intimate Breathe or the va-va-voom eroticism of Don't Say You Love Me - is as strong as ever. Covering a range of emotions from the exuberant to the reflective, Nightbird is an eloquent achievement - two frontline showbusiness troopers showing they haven't lost their hunger or intelligence.The Mirror
Next up is Breathe, which was the first single from this album. Never has a more perfect example of exemplary song pacing, vocals and synth backdrop been woven. Andy's lyrics are simple but ever-so-effective and are performed brilliantly over Vince's awesome key-changing arrangement. Shiver-inducing and easily Erasure's best song for some time, it was fully deserving of reaching #4 in the UK Singles Chart. Jill Walsh's backing vocals are also superb in this truly flawless song. The soaring I'll Be There follows and is a track that doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album. Vince's pseudo-80s arrangement is kitsch enough to be enjoyable and the vocal melody is reminiscent of the Cowboy album, which is certainly a good thing, but the song is devoid of any backing vocals at all and as every other track has rich, deep backing vocals it makes this track seem a little naked. Catchy and enjoyable, but a little incongruous.
The album then slows for the ballad Because Our Love Is Real. The simple arrangement works very well in this song about the joys of love and companionship. Not the most memorable track on the album by any means, but still an enjoyable listen. Don't Say You Love Me is another example of this album's beautiful vocals and well structured synths. Some of Andy's lyrics aren't so hot on this track, but all is forgiven thanks to the terrific chorus. A very good song, but perhaps a strange choice as the second single from the album. All This Time Still Falling Out Of Love is perhaps the only real dance floor up-tempo track on the entire album. Despite it's promising introduction, the song never reaches the its potential, partly because of the very repetitive nature of the music. The melody is excellent as usual but the chorus doesn't really climax in the way it perhaps could have done. It's still a decent track, but sadly falls short of being an Erasure classic.
I Broke It All In Two follows and is probably the weakest track on a strong album. The vocals are excellently pitched over a fine mellow arrangement but the song is badly let down by the lyrics and the unsatisfying chorus. It is by no means a terrible song, but lyrically could have been much better. The anthemic Sweet Surrender is next up, and despite a slightly dated sounding backdrop from Vince, is a brilliant song. Lyrically Andy expresses disdain over the conflict in Iraq, but it is the contagious melody and vocals that make this such a gratifying aural experience. An excellent and infectious track. The album concludes with the awesome I Bet You're Mad At Me. Superb from start to finish, this is one of Erasure's finest slow ballads which is impossible to fault in any way. Andy has rarely sounded better and the sentiment of the song is perfectly captured in Vince's music. A fine ending to a fine album.
Nightbird is an extremely consistent album, with there not being a single poor track on it. Despite this, the album doesn't get five stars for one reason: the lyrics. Although generally good, they are sometimes clumsy and thematically are almost completely comprised of first-person songs about the facets of love. This makes the lyrical theme of the album seem too familiar and occasionally a little tiresome. However, to finish this review on a negative would be doing this release a huge disservice; Nightbird is a superb album and is easily Erasure's best work of the Twenty-First Century. Unmissable for fans, old and new.
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