(*homocinematically inclined)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reverend's Reviews: Erasure and Tori Amos Are Back

How could I forget my first exposure to Erasure back in 1986? They were opening for Duran Duran, and Andy Bell pranced out onto stage wearing a tank top and tutu. I was smitten. Their music wasn't bad either, as millions of listeners gay and straight have discovered.

Hard to believe it's been 25 years between then and the techno duo's new album, Tomorrow's World, now available this week. Erasure is also currently wrapping up a world tour. While I can't say Tomorrow's World offers much new stylistically, it does reflect how Bell and co-writer/performer Vince Clarke have grown lyrically and musically. The first single from the album, "When I Start To (Break It All Down)," has been available for a while and is a more subdued song than one would think would be helpful in stoking public interest. Most of the tunes on the new effort share this air of melancholy.

That being said, there are several that will no doubt inspire Erasure's fans to hit the dance floor. "Fill Us With Fire," "A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot" and "Then I Go Twisting" are fun, and "You've Got to Save Me Right Now" has an interesting revival-meeting sound to it. While perhaps more low-key than we are used to from Bell & Clarke, Tomorrow's World suits a social and musical scene that is decidedly less frivolous than those happy-go-lucky mid-80's.

Meanwhile, pop chanteuse Tori Amos has definitely taken a more experimental turn on her new release, Night of Hunters. Now available on the classical label Deutsche Grammophon, it is a bold work that deserves to be applauded even though it may alienate her longtime supporters.

Drawing from post-renaissance texts and music styles, Amos has created a 21st century song cycle rooted in a 400-year classical tradition. She explores a primary theme of the hunter and the hunted, and explores it romantically, psychologically and existentially. The CD demands close listening more than once to even begin to appreciate its tracks. The compositions are frequently gorgeous, with the title song and "Your Ghost" particularly haunting (no pun intended) pieces.

Night of Hunters is a welcome, intriguing break from the norm for Amos. It will be interesting to see how it goes over critically and commercially.

Reverend's Ratings:
Tomorrow's World: B-
Night of Hunters: A-

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Blade California.

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