Not Quite Winter Wonderland
Erasure’s Snow Globe is the latest in a long line of releases that stretches back to 1985 and includes a laundry list of UK top 40 hits. Singer Andy Bell and Depeche Mode founding member Vince Clarke have managed to keep their hit machine together longer than just about any of their contemporaries. So, for the band that’s done everything and is coming up fast on its 30th year, it’s only natural that they’d release… a Christmas album?!
It may not hit you at first. “Bells of Love,” the opening track, doesn’t exactly ring with holiday cheer. It actually sounds like the bursting of the synth-pop bubble that Bell and Clarke bought into so many years ago. Chase that with a shot of “Gaudete,” a traditional Latin hymn that was chosen as the album’s lead-off single, and you have a recipe for confusion. The band wanders further into dance club pop before turning the tables with “Sleep Quietly,” an eerie nursery rhyme-like Baby Jesus carol that sounds like something out of a Tim Burton musical.
By the time Erasure’s rendition of “Silent Night,” comes through, there is a distinct feeling of “What the hell is going on here?” But the covers themselves are solid. Erasure runs through unique renditions of well-known classics like “Silver Bells,” as well as the less radio-friendly “Bleak Midwinter,” with deft instrumentals and gorgeous vocal work. Putting a bit of electronic edge on “White Christmas” brings a fresh new sound to what you may have forgotten is honestly a beautiful song. Unfortunately, the Erasure originals of Snow Globe become the album’s weaker moments. “Blood On the Snow” holds to their dark holiday theme, but others like “Loving Man,” and “There’ll Be No Tomorrow,” just sound terribly out of place.
Snow Globe is an interestingly weird idea, but it doesn’t quite pan out. The Christmas album was a kitschy gamble that could have paid off, but a few oddball choices and deviations in tone make it lose direction and cohesion before it even gets up to speed.