Erasure's Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have been making music for 20 years. In that time, the duo has had its fair share of hits and misses. The act's last two albums of original material ("Loveboat" an

Erasure's Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have been making music for 20 years. In that time, the duo has had its fair share of hits and misses. The act's last two albums of original material ("Loveboat" and "Cowboy") were rather lackluster. "Nightbird," conversely, is a spot-on hit. The songwriting is crisp and sharp, with Bell's tales of love—the bitter and the sweet—effortlessly cavorting with Clarke's fresh yet signature-sounding synth work. The many standout tracks include "All This Time Still Falling Out of Love," lead single "Breathe," "I'll Be There" and "Sweet Surrender." Perhaps Bell and Clarke needed to record an album of covers ("Other People's Songs") to musically find themselves (again). "Nightbird" is a fine return to form, and it plays very well with the likes of the Postal Service's indefatigable full-length, "Give Up."—MP