Three years down the line from their live and remix releases, Erase Errata have gone through some major re-landscaping. Sara Jaffe’s departure triggered a long process of experimentation to find their feet as a trio. Sonically, Jenny Hoysten’s guitar figures more prominently this time round. It adds width to the songs, as opposed to overcompensating with power. The resulting change in sound is subtle on paper but makes Nightlife a real departure. There are added flourishes of new pop, Postcard, and indie rock in the arrangements, Franz Ferdinand and early Prince as much as Gang of Four. Lyrically, current events have affected its content deeply. War, apathy, and isolationism feature prominently. Heightened corporate malpractice and a sense that paranoia about the government might be a little more justified also loom large. Thankfully, Hoysten is a master of the slightly oblique, and what could be an exercise in spot something else wrong with the world is by turns humorous, unnerving, and (mostly) pretty cool.
The opening “Cruising” is a propulsive amalgamation of “Pop Life” and early Liars. It marries lust and societal impropriety, as Hoysten intones “surrender/you’ve got to give it to me…It’s a republic, of complicity.” “Hotel Suicide” would suit the Bates Motel, with its sinister noise oozes. “Another Genius Idea From Our Government” takes Sister and the Fire Engines’ Codex Teenage Premonition, making them eminently accessible. “Dust” almost hints at PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her, but there’s a lot of the 1960s Batman theme and an almost stadium bombast to balance things. Meanwhile, “Tax Dollar” has early Buzzcock’s snot and a Kill Bill ornate-ness. There’s something worryingly alluring and cute about the delivery of “I got away/ Yeah I really got away/ With murder, manslaughter, all funded by my tax dollar.”
“He Wants What’s Mine” has a little Funkadelic about its rhythm. Meanwhile, “Giant Hans” could be a John Peel sibling to Franz Ferdinand’s “Michael” and “Darts of Pleasure.” The album closer “Wasteland (In A…)” segues into a brief title track, which has a lot in common with David Thomas and Two Pale Boys. The former whirrs ands buzzes in a manner worthy of early Factory releases. Nightlife is an impressive step forward for the Sparta, Erickson and Hoysten, and the coolest, most alive part-protest record to be released all year.
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch EP
Prince – Controversy