With Christmas quickly approaching, I thought it might be nice to review something festive. You were probably as surprised as I was a couple of years ago when Erasure suddenly announced they were going to release a Christmas album – and if you put your fingers in your ears and ignored it, you’ll probably be equally surprised to learn that it’s actually quite good.
The first track is the inadvisably named Bells of Love (Isabelle’s of Love), which must have seemed a hilarious pun at some point, but falls a bit flat here. That said, it’s not a bad song – after all Erasure‘s failings between Loveboat (2000) and Tomorrow’s World (2012) – there were many – the one lesson they really seem to have learnt is how to write a catchy song. This one even has a nice lyric to go with the melody, and it’s easy to nod your head along.
A cover of the traditional hymn Gaudete follows. I’m all for pop songs in Latin personally, and when they’re as gloriously silly as this one, you really just have to shut up and enjoy it. Andy Bell‘s delivery is brilliant (although quite what the Latins would make of his pronunciation is difficult to say), and Vince Clarke‘s synth work complements the vocals perfectly.
Recent Erasure efforts have tended to contain at least one song that reminds you of just how good they used to be back in the late 80s and early 90s, and Snow Globe is no exception. Make it Wonderful, a sad omission from their recent best of compilation, surely belongs alongside Love to Hate You, Sometimes, and Always as one of their finest songs. A hugely uplifting lyric, accompanied by some brilliant synth lines – what else could you ask for?
It’s difficult not to admire Erasure here. To release a Christmas album of covers is one thing, and this could easily have been a failure of Other People’s Songs (2003) proportions, but impressively most of the songs on here are actually original. Sleep Quietly is one of the few exceptions, and despite being very heavy on the religion, it’s a lovely song.
Interestingly Clarke and Bell decided to revisit their earlier festive efforts when recording this release, and so God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and She Won’t Be Home both appears (in vastly inferior form) on the second disc. Which gives Silent Night, previously performed as a radio session way back in the early days, a bit of context here – otherwise, nice though it is, it would seem a bit pointless, although the soft ambient backing does make for a nice instrumental (also on the bonus disc).
There are forgettable pieces on here – you’re not likely to remember Loving Man or Midnight Clear much after Epiphany – and there are even some reasonably poor moments – There’ll Be No Tomorrow and the closing piece Silver Bells are pretty sub-par – so perhaps keeping this as a more concise EP might have been wise. But it’s difficult to get annoyed, because it’s just so festive.
The chiptune take on The Christmas Song is rather brilliant – you have no idea how happy it would make me to hear this in Tesco’s on Christmas Eve. Actually, Bleak Midwinter and Blood on the Snow are both pretty good too.
It only remains to mention the cover of White Christmas, which is pleasant – it’s still a lovely song – but lacks both the silly, gaudy qualities of Gaudete and the chiptune fun of The Christmas Song.
But all told, this is a pretty good album. If nothing else, it will be worth bringing out for a few Christmases so you can watch Granny rock back and forth in her chair and fall asleep to something different, fun, and very entertaining indeed.
We’ve been listening to the Deluxe Nutcracker Edition of Snow Globe, which is available here.