Erasure without their synths? What comes next? Metallica stripped of their thrashing guitars? Don Quijote in an adventure on his own, lacking the desperately needed anchorage of sharp witted wingman Sancho Panza? Roger Federer robbed of his devastating forehand?

Has the world gone completely mad?

Well, no. Not quite. Admittedly, I was mentally prepared to bring in the big chainsaw for this one, but as it turns out, "Union Street" (Erasure covering themselves!) holds up surprisingly well. While I won't bicker about what would happen to, say, Iron Maiden if they suddenly went into full blown "electro" mood, it seems inevitable for the established electronic pop bands to give in to the almighty guitar God in the end. Vince and Andy must have felt certain in their seemingly overly ambitious notion to alter a bunch of their ballads (sorry, no fast ones, club people) so radically. The naked feel of songs like "Piano Song", "Spiraling" and "Rock Me Gently" is still unmercifully present, while the magical sweeps of "Tenderest Moments" are sorely missed, transforming it into a shell of its vibrant former self. Many fans will no doubt miss Clarke's ferocious knob twiddling, but the fact remains, these are all strong songs. You can not hide great melody.

The lyrics, in all their cliche ridden naivety are even more on display in these sparse acoustic surroundings and they do require from their listeners to find the lovefool within themselves to fully enjoy them. Even though Bell's vocals shine relentlessly through the eleven tracks of "Union Street", there are brief moments where you wish he could restrain his vaulting falsetto somewhat. A grade of five for the effort and an extra R, due to the simple fact that I am currently in "lovefool" gear myself. I am all wrapped up in the raging emotion created by this album. It's funny what a super cute lawyer in the making can do to you.