Loveboat, Erasure‘s ninth full-length studio album, proved to be their least successful in terms of sales and charts since their debut Wonderland in 1986. Produced by Erasure and Flood, it was released in the UK by Mute Records in 2000. Erasure’s U.S. record label at the time, Maverick Records, shelved the album because of “lack of hit singles.” Largely panned by Erasure fans upon its release (and even by Andy Bell years after) because of its greater use of acoustic guitars, its lo-fi feel and heavy-handed bass sounds (many blame Flood’s production work), the album did manage to get some positive reviews by music critics.

Loveboat failed to hit the top forty in the UK and two singles were released, although only one was eligible to chart. Maverick Records requested the re-recording and remixing of several tracks from the album before they would agree to release it. Although “Moon & the Sky” was re-worked, Maverick never released it and dropped Erasure from its artist roster. Three years after its UK release, Mute Records secured rights to finally release it in its original form in the U.S. in 2003.

It was actually released in the States after Erasure’s follow-up album Other People’s Songs. Loveboat did not chart on the Billboard 200. [Wikipedia]

Freedom—-With a basic acoustic guitar, the bass line enters the song and propels it along at a nice pace. I love how Andy has such heavily overlayed and electronic ministrations to his vocal. Although few fans enjoyed this release, I sought it out for a very long time and still enjoy the CD to this day. I have never considered this to be a weak or poor release. This, to me, is fantastic.

Where In The World—-Delivering a classic Erasure styled ballad, the acoustic guitar seems appropriate here. Bell sings in a deeper than normal voice but it is like sweet syrup. The synth lines open up the song and allows a very real, melancholy sound to overtake the track. How can one not love this? To me this is classic Erasure. Remarkable!

Crying In The Rain—-From the onset, this is odd. The vocal seems to be heavily manipulated and the beats are out of synch at the beginning. The music seems to come into tandem with the vocal by the second bar and the sound of the song is not much different from the type of things Erasure has been doing on the last 3 releases or so. I personally think this is DIVINE!!!

Perchance To Dream—-Again, this seems to have some odd manipulations to the voice that almost at times makes it sound foreign. When Andy is allowed to really sing with the classic Clarke synth lines, it is classic Erasure. Other times, this comes off as a new band you have never heard before. This is by no means a bad, or throwaway song, but it takes some patience before it truly grows on you. Still…this is Erasure….nuff said.

Alien—-Without a doubt, my favorite track from this release. The synth line, combined with the acoustic guitar allows the song to become a huge atmospheric track that can bring about a certain level of sadness regardless of your mood. This is remarkable…the nice backdrop or overlayed vocals swell and the chorus is just absolute brilliance. Andy has rarely sounded more emotional or real. The sound is pure Erasure. The release, mostly hit or miss, really hit for me on this track. Outstanding.

Mad As We Are—-With a wonderful merge from the previous track, the beginning of this song almost reminds me of a song from a play…the tune is so simple and irresistable, you will turn back to it time and time again. This is wonderfully presented, with minimal music and heartfelt and very real lyrics. This is a hit clean out of the path for me…I could not ask for more. This remains…Beautiful!

Here In My Heart—-Returning to full on synth mode, this track contains all of the contagious elements that made this duo one of the best-selling synth groups of our time. The beats are classic, the lyrics simple but very real and the energy is huge and in escapable. This is a brief moment of  genius.

Love Is The Rage—-With more acoustic guitar, the vocal seems pushed way to the back of the mix in order to perhaps tone it down from some of it’s flamboyance…big mistake. That is when Bell is at his best. The electronics enter slowly and come across as mini-robots working behind the scenes building the song as it progresses. This is wonderful.

Catch 22—-Bass heavy and with all of little synth noises of Clarke firmly intact, the track moves along at a really great pace. Again, placement is everything and this was placed in just the right spot. Never allowing you to become to down, the track manages to lift you up and gently place you outside the lines of depression in a masterful way. This is, a brilliant release. It just goes to show…what do the execs know?

Moon & The Sky—-With all kinds of interesting blips and bleeps at the onset of the song, the bass enters and the song becomes a huge acid house romp that is only disturbed by the pushed back vocals of Bell. The melody of the song is irresistable and brings back the glory days of the duo. This is incredible…underappreciated, under promoted and under heard…this is masterful.

Surreal—-Ending this release with a slower, yet somehow electronic based ballad, the duo allows for the wonderful voice to soar above the synth line with lyrics that are heartfelt and almost joyful. It was very hard to find this release and very expensive when I did, but it remains worth eery penny. This is wonderful.

**** out of 5


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