Erasure’s 2020 studio album, The Neon, had keyboardist Vince Clarke returning to the duo’s classic synthpop sound by resurrecting vintage equipment he and singer Andy Bell used when they first began recording music nearly four decades ago. That their latest album, Day-Glo (Based on a True Story), sounds remarkably similar should be no surprise as the ten tracks on the record are made up of elements from its predecessor that have been manipulated and reworked into new songs. Day-Glo isn’t so much a Frankenstein’s monster as it is a pastiche, one that works remarkably well.
The first half of Day-Glo is a slow, mostly instrumental, build with Andy Bell’s vocals providing emotional coloring. The opener, “Based on a True Story”, is a tense number that bubbles up before soaring in with reverb-soaked oohs and ahs that add emotive, humanistic shading to Clarke’s synthetic musings. “Bop Beat” grounds things, landing us solidly on the dancefloor as Andy’s voice is chopped up and utilized as a percussive instrument. It isn’t until the second half of “The Conman” that Bell’s vocals offer any discernible lyrics. “You gotta rise up. Stand up, be counted. Don’t be a coward. Make your opinion known. Show ‘em how you feel,” Bell sings encouragingly.
If Day-Glo’s first half was an unhurried ascension, the LP’s second side is a steady, at times speedy, slalom. “Inside Out” provides an upbeat moment made for moving bodies. The rhythm is immediately infectious, and the production manages to fabricate a dark, cold aesthetic that never feels alienating. “Round and around and around,” Bell sings hypnotically as Clarke’s synths pulse and throb deliciously. “3 Strikes and You’re Out” is the record’s most straightforward track. Andy is in top form here as his voice rises and falls, gliding gloriously, effortlessly over Vince’s lush sonic landscape.
Day-Glo is concluded with “The End”. As if coming full circle, Clarke again utilizes Bell’s cropped vocals percussively. The song is anticlimactic and unmoored, making for an awkward ender, one at odds with its name. Regardless, Day-Glo (Based on a True Story) is an otherwise solid collection. After almost forty years together, Clarke and Bell know the features that have come to make their sound both compelling and identifiable. Longtime Erasure fans will find a lot to love here.