29. Erasure, Pop! The First 20 Hits (Sire, 1992)

Given synthesist Vince Clarke's inclination to leave bands after an album or two (The Assembly, his collaboration with Undertones leader Feargal Sharkey dissolved after one single), it's impressive that he's worked as a duo with vocalist Andy Bell for nearly two decades now. This collection strongly argues for such tenacity. While Erasure's albums were never as consistent as Yazoo's (although the melancholy, mortality-obsessed I Say, I Say, I Say (1994) comes close), their singles deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Pet Shop Boys'. If early Tennant/Lowe was cerebral/cynical/ironic, Clarke/Bell were always unabashedly impulsive, romantic and direct. I suspect the Pets will ultimately prove the more "important" band , but chestnuts like "Oh L'Amour", "Sometimes", "A Little Respect", "Stop!" and "Blue Savannah" nail that euphoric rush born out of lip-synching to your favorite song on headphones or catching an encouraging glance from the hottest guy/girl in the room. It's all liberation and emotional release, much like the best ABBA--not for nothing does this astonishing time capsule conclude with a bouncy cover of "Take A Chance On Me".