I completely lost track of Erasure since—whoa, since 1994's I Say I Say I Say and the "Always" single, a song that always threw me for a loop since its hook contained that weird extra beat at the end. That's actually a big no-no in the rulebook of club hits, which states that everything must be 4/4 or die. Listening back to their older hits and glancing over the eight (huh, really?) albums since I Say I Say I Say, it's clear how inventive Erasure has been in the rigidly prescribed format of dance music. Listen to the joyful "A Little Respect" again and imagine it hitting dance floors for the first time today—it would blow people's bass-addled, dubstep-dumbed-down brains. And that's why Vince Clarke and Andy Bell have been around as long as they have: Erasure always manage to find room for songwriting smarts within a format that's historically favored rigor over invention. NED LANNAMANN
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