All right everybody, into your fishnets! Get out that black eyeliner, NOW! Eraas’ new self-titled album is stylized to the nth degree, as if 1987 never ended. The guitars ring with a low, morose, watery tone, straight through an oldschool Boss chorus pedal, awash in thick, foggy banks of synthesized strings over a tensely pounding beat punctuated by trebly minimalist bass. If you missed the days when the Sisters of Mercy were headlining at Radio City Music Hall – or if you were there and wish you still were – this is for you.
Long, hypnotic, drony vamps build slowly to catchy choruses, a blend of Clan of Xymox anthemicness and stygian, trancey sonics that occasionally echo Mogwai’s more low-key excursions. The New Order influence lurks ominously in the background everywhere here, but it’s the dark, early, Movement-era New Order, not the synthpop band they turned into shortly thereafter. The album opens appropriately with a murky drone that eventually rises to muffled drums on the offbeat – a recurrent motif, along with the bass playing simple, rhythmic octaves. Desolate keys and then an echoey choir of heavily processed vocals enter and then fade back to the opening riff: it’s a tintype for everything else here.
The third track, At Heart, channels early New Order with galloping, punchy bass, swirling keys, a dead-girl choir and a gamelanesque, gong-like loop on the horizon that eventually takes centerstage. Ghost, with its dub-influenced arrangement and synthy guitars, offers the closest thing to a narrative here, a call for a seance “down the stairs from a broken home while torches line the walls.” Skinning goes from stark and minimal with brooding piano to lushly orchestrated and then back again, while Briar Path is totally Sisters of Mercy as it moves from unexpectedly funky to a macabre clog dance of sorts. The band goes for a more percussive take on Bela Lugosi’s Dead with the next track, Crosscut, then shifts to more straight-up goth-pop with Fang. The album ends on a perfectly funereal note with a couple of dirges: Crescent, a slow processional, and Trinity, following a long, sinister walk down the guitar scale to its logical conclusion. There were a million bands like this out there 25 years ago; most of them have stood the test of time well. Give Eraas extra props for staying true to the style without being kitschy or stupid. They’re at the Cameo Gallery on 11/10 at around 10.