01 – Bells of Love (Isabelle’s of Love)
02 – Gaudete
03 – Make It Wonderful
04 – Sleep Quietly
05 – Silent Night
06 – Loving Man
07 – The Christmas Song
08 – Bleak Midwinter
09 – Blood on the Snow
10 – There’ll Be No Tomorrow
11 – Midnight Clear
12 – White Christmas
13 – Silver Bells
I have to lay my cards on the table and say that I used to idolise Vince Clarke, the first song of his I ever heard was “Dreaming of Me” on a radio whilst in my parents garage, and from the first few notes I was hooked, and just about everything he’s done since from Depeche Mode through Yazoo and onto Erasure I’ve bought, repeatedly played to death and loved the lot. To be honest though a lot of the later Erasure stuff hasn’t given me the excitement that all his other stuff has. I suppose because he’s set the bar so high. This Christmas offering of Snow Globe has once again lifted my spirits as I remember just how good Erasure were.
Bells of love is the first track and presents us with a taste of what this album has to offer. Vince Clarke knows how to write the perfect pop song and of course it’s perfectly produced and orchestrated with the type of synthetic prowess that on Mr Clarke can do. Gaudete reproduces the Latin chants and harmonies but overlays it to a drum machine rhythm in 4/4 time which leads to some strange interplay between the chorus which I think is in the original 9/8 time and the verses 4/4. Now I’ve heard it a few times it sounds “right”.
Make it wonderful is one of Erasures songs and like most of their songs it sounds as though it could be a single. It defiantly has a Christmas feel to it and that helps lyrically mentioning the northern lights. After several listens this one certainly grows on you, with some nice melodies and sweeping synth sounds
Vince loves to experiment with synthesisers sounds and they are certainly to the fore in Sleep Quietly, as the intro has lots of clever chiming electronic sounds, everything seems to sit in the perfect place sonically, there’s always plenty of space and the synthesiser orchestrations fit perfectly with the vocals and harmonies and as the song ends I’ve only just realised there are no drum sounds.
Silent night, again like the last song has no rhythm track either and Is very much in keeping with the tradition of this beautiful song, some massive bass sounds punctuate the end of the first verse and harmonies from Andy Bell are perfect and hugely atmospheric as are the occasional bleeps. There’s plenty of power in this one.
Loving man is another Erasure composition and again sounds like it could quite easily be a single, it reminds me of the Crackers International EP, it fits perfectly with the theme of the album, another catchy tune that you will be humming after a couple of listens.
The Christmas song uses 8 bit type arcade machine sounds and is a cover of a traditional song that jumps into pure Erasure territory at the chorus when Vince throws some synthesiser stuff together.
It’s a more traditional arrangement for Bleak Midwinter, one of those songs that suits Andy’s vocals down to the ground. There’s still room for a little Erasure in the middle eight section though and some excellent use of harmonies on the vocals.
Some more 8 bit arcade sounds lead you into Blood on the Snow, this is another Erasure composition and is written in 6/8 time so this one swings! It’s probably one of the more adventurous songs in terms of arrangement and electronic orchestration.
The opening riff and indeed the song that follows on There’ll Be No Tomorrow sounds very much to me like it could have been from the very first Erasure album Wonderland. If you like Erasure you won’t be disappointed as all the elements of what they do so well are all here. The sparse arrangement of Midnight Clear gives the synthesisers more room to shine while White Christmas is given an almost retro vinyl feel with a distance effect to the vocals but it does contain some synthesiser sounds that can only be described as Vince Clarke sounds!
Silver Bells brings this pleasant album to an end with more of what has come before. More delicate synthetic arrangements with all the right sounds in the right places.
Andy Bell must have thought all his Christmases had come at once when Vince decided to do a Christmas album, especially with those traditional carols included that give Andy the chance to perform all those sort of vocal gymnastics with his choir boy-esque voice. Whether it’s one of their songs or a cover version for new and old Erasure fans alike this is what a Christmas album is all about and as such it doesn’t disappoint.