With nearly 30 years of music behind them Pet Shop Boys have a fairly immaculate discography and any time I’ve wanted to dip out (Release) they’ve pulled me back in (Fundamental) and though I wasn’t too enthused by Elysium I did like 2009’s Yes. And there’s something remarkable about those early albums – they really stand up; they’re not (just) kitsch excursions, they are sonically rewarding still, they continue to sound fresh, exciting. These guys know pop hooks; they make pop hits.
So, Electric is a real treat – its Pet Shop Boys revisiting the 1990s/early 2000s dance/club material that they built on top of an immaculate pop pedigree. Revisiting and then expanding/expounding.
Electric opens with something (Axis) that feels like Moroder remixing Kraftwerk, or Daft Punk not just updating Moroder but rather allowing him to rework their ideas. This rolls into Bolshy – a track that’s reminiscent of the one decent track that’s been on any Madonna album across the last two decades. Producer Stuart Price could have something to do with that.
And then it’s to Love Is A Bourgeois Construct – where Neil Tennant dresses up Brideshead Revisited’s musical score and takes it out clubbing, you almost imagine Chris Lowe has a teddy-bear named Aloysius cuddled up on his synth. It’s too perfect. An infectious blast of the sort of pop-euphoria born of trash-meets-high-art/trash-is-high-art that has always been the Pet Shop Boys’ modus operandi.
Fluorescent borrows Visage’s Fade To Grey and takes it down a dark alley – I’ll let you decide if Rohypnol was involved. But shit it’s a fantastic song. A dance-floor anthem; set once again to a wee spike of Daft Punk. It trances (not to mention trounces) Visage’s synth-pop ennui.
And then we get a bit dreamy and dream-pop/ish with Inside A Dream before the big trick of remaking a Springsteen song (The Last To Die) for the dancefloor. Fantastic job – a bonkers-but-brilliant remake.
Thursday might be Pet Shop Boys’ tongue-in-cheek tribute to/pisstake of Rebecca Black’s Friday with a days-of-the-week-chant-along chorus but Black Eyed Peas it ain’t (thankfully). It’s one of the best pop songs on this smart, near-perfect pop/EDM/electronica album. A career-high then from a band that’s never (really) dropped the ball.
A wonderful new set of sounds that borrows heavily on the band’s old sounds. It seems all at once like Pet Shop Boys, it sounds also like something brand new, something brilliant, something retro and sleek but contemporary, so totally hip. The kids might sniff and laugh but this is a really great record.
I like that Pet Shop Boys have always known how to make dance music for art galleries. I could sit and stare at this sound for a long, long time. I plan to.