PET SHOP BOYS, Electric
It's difficult to keep track of how many albums the Pet Shop Boys have released – 14 all-new studio albums, 2 b-side box sets, 3 soundtracks, 2 live records, 5 remix sets, 3 'best-of' records, over 50 singles, and several assorted concert DVD's – which makes “Electric”'s place, as anything other than another Pet Shop Boys record, difficult to determine : made of songs worked on immediately after “Elysium”, newer recordings, and a determindedly lively retort to the previous record, “Electric” is the yin to “Elysium”s yang. The closest relative it has, to me, is 2003's “Disco 3”, a record made of fast and energetic songs made quickly in response to it's predecessor, the disappointing “Release”. Here, the same approach, with a short (47 minute) album made of 9 punchy songs is the approach. But it is not anything but a new Pet Shop Boys record. What the Pet Shop Boys do best, is not the mature and considered love song ; but the literate, and bonkers disco frenzy, of heartbreak on the dancefloor. That the combined age of this duo is around 113 is not evident at all in the music. They're practically the Rolling Stones of disco, apart from the fact that they keep making good records and have a back catalogue to die for.
“Electric” is a resolutely unapologetic record, high tempo, sweeping disco epics, - not so much a return to form – as a restatement of intent : and being alphabetically sequenced, it starts – and ends – with a climax of sound, from the pounding “Axis” to the huge chords frenzy of “Vocal”. Inbetween the album is a variable feast, reminiscent in some ways of 1993's limited edition “Relentless”, 1988's “Introspective”, and many a b-side and club mix. My 3 year old, for example, told me to turn the silly noise during “Shouting In The Evening”, which is built on a squelchy, distorted bass. But it sounds great. The albums low point - which is still quite high - for me, is “Thursday”, where Example provides a unexceptional bridge rap over a glorious orchestral break, and Chris Lowe intones the days of the week. It's still got future hit written all over it. And whilst there may not be a single, stunning, stuck-forever-in-the-setlist classic of the calibre of their Imperial Phase, Electric is so so much better than any act with an average age of 56 should be making, so much more ambitious, uncompromising, and passionately in love with the possibilities of the future.
What a great year for albums! This is the best single Pet Shop Boys album in a decade. Think less, feel more, heartbreak on the dancefloor.