Erasure Snow Globe (Mute)
Gamely rebooting an old-fashioned and deeply uncool format, the veteran British electro-pop duo of Vince Clarke and Andy Bell attempt to reinvent the festive album with Snow Globe. It features electronic reworkings of classic seasonal songs and traditional winter standards alongside five original tracks. The selection of cover versions is admirably broad, notably a sparkly techno treatment of the 16th- century French composition Gaudete, with lyrics entirely in Latin. But even the more obvious choices are generally clothed in refined and thoughtful new arrangements. Vintage Hollywood standards such as Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and Mel Tormé’s The Christmas Song have been digitally updated, the former into a twinkly tapestry of ambient ripples, the latter an enjoyably clunky collage of retro computer-game bleeps. Clarke’s treatment of the solemn old-school carols Silent Night and In the Bleak Midwinter also stand out, all choral trills and tinselly shimmers with minimal percussion. Erasure’s original new songs inevitably pale by comparison, but the best is the doomy electro waltz Blood On the Snow, which foregrounds the album’s subtle undertow of wintry horror and darkness. Not quite a radical reinvention, but certainly a smart repackaging.