World be Gone is not a typical Erasure album. While their 30 year career has moved between themes of love, relationships, introspection and the good life, there was usually a danceable sugary pop sweetness that permeated the material while they were at it.
Yet on their 17th effort, Vince Clark and Andy Bell toss out very few easy synth treats, using the majority of its runtime to throw mud at the world in a somewhat sombre mood and the odd activist spark thrown in.
The message across the LP is a common one in the present world of lunacy; namely, we’re screwed. While that may be true, World Be Gone attempts to blur the lines of pop and politics to deliver a smattering of hope. This is nothing new in their music of course, but it is equally necessary that the synth pop legends voice their discontent. Anything less at this stage of their career would be seen as contrived, given the signs of the times.
“Still It’s Not Over” is probably the album's defining moment, a song in which a minimal arrangement and an almost gospel chorus frames lyrics about the gay rights movement under attack in many parts of the world. It’s a beautiful protest song and a compelling track which serves as masthead of World Be Gone.
But the album doesn’t quite rise up and a raise a fist. Instead, it finds Bell and Clark acting really more as observers, mostly acknowledging the challenges that lay ahead and celebrating personal triumphs along the way.
It's the darkest journey of any Erasure effort - barring the sickly sweet lead off single “Love You to the Sky", which could have been easily dropped to completely unify the effort - and sees the band at their most vulnerable. It will of course satisfy long time fans, but those that have overlooked the band over the years would be wise to reunite with them for the battle ahead.