Sunday 21 July 2013

Pet Shop Boys - Electric

It's been just under thirty years since the Pet Shop Boys released their debut album 'Please', featuring the classic West End Girls, and the duo are still going strong.  It might be hard to believe, but 'Electric' is their twelfth album.  Not a bad career by any standards.

As you might guess from the title, 'Electric' is very much a dance album and, like the duo's career, it has a sound that spans the last three decades.  Opening track Axis is an immediate highlight - a mostly instrumental track that conjures up comparisons with the likes of Kraftwerk.  That the duo were inspired by an Italian disco night in Berlin comes as no surprise.  Axis undoubtedly has a strong European flavour that's simultaneously 80s retro and space-age, with its pulsating riffs and alien, whining melodies.  Subsequent track Bolshy is a rare grating moment by comparison, with its repetitive "bolshy bolshy" vocal.

Thankfully, things pick up again with Love Is A Bourgeois Construct.  The most obvious single on the album, this is typical Pet Shop Boys fare with its immensely catchy chorus and electro sampling of a Purcell fanfare.  It's a song that transports you back to the duo's hey-day in the 80s, lines like "while the bankers all get their bonuses, I'll just get along with what I've got" easily applying to the economic situation both then and now.

Elsewhere, 'Electric' takes us through the gamut of dance styles, from the house-inspired Inside A Dream, to the hyperactive techno of Shouting In The Evening, all cementing the Pet Shop Boys sound with the unmistakable vocals of Neil Tennant.  Thursday in particular is reminiscent of the duo's West End Girls with its squelching bassline, whilst the inclusion of Example on a guest rap brings things full circle with a contemporary twist (a coup he's lucky to have nabbed).  Final track Vocal ends 'Electric' on an impossibly euphoric high, the lyrics expressing the power of music that's certainly evident here.

'Electric' is a celebration of dance music from a duo who have proved themselves to be masters of electronic music.  Three decades of experience culminates in this album.  Long may it continue.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Axis
* Love Is A Bourgeois Construct
* Vocal

Listen: 'Electric' is available now.