Starting soft and staying there, Nightbird takes more than a couple listens to pay real dividends, but that Erasure are revitalized is evident first time through. Gone is the trying-too-hard surface-pop of Cowboy and Other People's Songs and back is the intimate, introspective, and great lyrical moments of the ballads scattered among the duo's best albums. Song after song displays that lead singer Andy Bell has grown remarkably as a writer.
How long has it been since these two were guaranteed a couple of weeks at number one just by releasing an EP of Abba covers? Thirteen years, in fact - sufficient time to conclude that Andy Bell and Vince Clarke's electro-theatrics really were as insubstantial as they seemed. Their first studio album (apart from a 2003 covers set) in four years is a reintroduction to their ephemeral way of dealing with love and loss. It has already spawned a top five hit, Breathe, whose typically big-money chorus feels instantly familiar, in the sense that all Erasure choruses seem to use variations of the same soaring note sequence.