Andy Bell Electric Blue

Having firmly established himself as a pop star thanks to being half of Erasure, it’s not terribly surprising that after 20 years of working alongside synth-pop pioneer Vince Clarke, singer Andy Bell might want to try doing his own thing. However, exactly what Bell felt he needed to do solo that he couldn’t get out of his regular gig is a mystery, since this album is exactly like a new Erasure album, only minus Clarke in the credits. This will be welcome news for Erasure fans, since there is nothing here that would be out of step with their body of work. On Electric Blue, Bell has teamed up with co-writers Philip Larsen and Chris Smith, who have worked with the likes of Moby, Goldfrapp, Stereophonics and unsurprisingly, Erasure. There is the nice touch of guest vocals provided by Propaganda’s Claudia Brucken and Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters. The album’s 14 tracks are as pop as you can get, with most being very up-tempo and vibrant, and synth programming that sounds fresh without being too trendy. After revealing he was HIV positive last year (although he was diagnosed in 1998), Bell’s ability to continue with his hectic career came into question. However he made it clear that he was doing fine and had no intentions of slowing down, which he clearly hasn’t. All in all, this isn’t an album that will win any new fans, but it will serve as a solid accompaniment to the Erasure collection, which is a good place to be. (Sanctuary)