Erasure, Wonderland

If Vince Clarke's work on Erasure's debut album sounds like a Depeche Mode continuance, it's no accident, and if Andy Bell's vocals sound like Alison Moyet, it's no sin. Clarke could always craft a compelling hook and their first outing adroitly demonstrates this ability even if the resulting product is no more than the sum of its parts. Indeed, nothing here is ever less than serviceable, and who can resist "L'Amour" and "Who Needs Love Like That?" (and the prescient "March On Down the Line" in which Bell repeatedly sings he's coming out this time to an audience that clearly only took him literally then), but the duo leaves too many opportunities for greatness or at least gravitas on the table they too easily spurn for going with what they know. Only Bell's "Cry So Easy" tried for distinctiveness with a moving emotive capacity the pair did not yet fully manifest, chastising an unseen partner for desiring the sort of guileless childlike affection he can't provide as a grown man. Fortunately their skills did not go wasted, as the wonderful The Innocents would demonstrate just two years later. (Content: no concerns.)