Erasure

Union Street (Mute)

The two men of Erasure trading in their patented synthesizers for twangy, cowboy-country guitars? We'll pass on the obligatory Brokeback Mountain jokes. Sadly, however, a joke is about the most complimentary thing you could call Union Street. Vince Clarke and Andy Bell have recast nine of their sleek techno-pop gems as Nashville-accented nuggets. The point, apparently, is to remind everyone that Erasure writes great tunes -- the kind that, like the bygone standards and torch songs that inspire the duo, are durable enough to withstand radical reinterpretation. If only. There's no denying that Clarke and Bell have written some of the most campy yet exultant anthems ever to grace recorded sound. But the marriage of Bell's operatic histrionics to slide guitar and dobro works about as well as, um, Willie Nelson singing reggae. You've got to laugh at the irony, though: They've somehow managed to make the warmest of live instruments sound more processed and antiseptic than sequencers and drum machines. Wasn't this whole thing a bad skit on Saturday Night Live?

 
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