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Pet Shop Boys – Electric

Nicola Sloan

Triangle

The Pet Shop Boys became a household name in the eighties, scoring several chart hits with their intelligent but accessible and insanely catchy pop music, Neil Tennant one of the most distinctive vocalists around with his precisely enunciated singing style.

For their twelfth studio album, they’ve taken producer Stuart Price on board, who turned Madonna into a disco queen with Confessions on a Dancefloor, and his influence really shows on this album. Apparently, Electric is a reaction to an iTunes account user’s comment that Pet Shop Boys’ last album, Elysium, needed more “banging and lasers”. Well, boy oh boy does this album deliver on that front.

From the opening track, it’s clear that this album will be taking no prisoners. Lead single Axis is a hard-edged, hypnotic thunderbolt of a song, with metallic robot vocals and a flashy, hallucinatory video to boot. Bolshy follows with its tribal disco drums and neon keys.

The wryly titled Love Is A Bourgeois Construct is one of the standout tracks of the album, a stunning glacial string opening paving the way for a technicolor disco stomp with funny, tongue-in-cheek lyrics hailing back to student days and male choral vocals that have a distinctly Go West flavour. It’s on this track particularly that Price’s influence is plain; the reeling disco opening makes it sound like it could have come straight off ‘Confessions’.

And then there’s the intense peaking synths of Fluorescent which actually left me picking pieces of my brain up off the floor, it’s that good. I was actually reeling at how cool this album is – not bad for a couple of guys in their fifties! Thursday includes a guest rap from non-other than chart-botherer Example, and, although I can’t say I’m a fan of him, the rap does fit in well with the overall tone of the song, which is a ready-for-the-weekend party song, perhaps the most radio-friendly of all the tracks here.

The Last To Die is a dance music upgrade of a Springsteen song, losing none of the punch and emotional impact of the original. Inside A Dream is pure euphoric trance and Shouting In The Evening features squealing falsetto vocals over an amped-up, grinding buzzsaw bassline which is again, very hard-hitting and very, very cool.

The album ends on a high with Vocal, a pumping, full-on hands-in-the-air Ibiza kind of tune, showing, as always, just how accessible PSB are, while maintaining a sense of integrity that is often lost in the high turnover of youth-obsessed talent show-pap that unfortunately characterises a lot of the current chart pop scene. Every track on this album is simply superb, and it’s great to hear a band sounding this fresh in a career that has spanned three decades. Pure brilliance.

www.petshopboys.co.uk

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