When we last heard from the Pet Shop Boys, we were treated to an electronic masterpiece in the form of Electric. It is hard to believe that almost 3 years has elapsed since that masterpiece of an album. Super once again finds Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe working with producer Stuart Price. In fact, this album is being called the 2nd in a planned trilogy with Price. To that end, Super continues with the club ready anthems re-established on Electric whist dropping most of the melancholy found on 2012’s Elysium. At this stage in their career – 30+ years, 13th studio album – I think it is fair to ask if the Pet Shop Boys have anything left to say. Super answers this conclusively – yes they do.
The measure of a good to great Pet Shop Boys album for me is determining how many songs would go on my imaginary Ultimate PSB mix. And the new album delivers in spades – there are at least half a dozen classics here along with another couple of above average songs. I’m only skipping 1 track on this album after repeated listens, which is a great sign. Happiness opens the album with perhaps my favorite song. A deep electronic groove of a song, it only has one lyric “It’s a long way to happiness / a long way to go / but i’m gonna get there, boy / the only way i know”. The way Neil delivers the vocals, it almost has a country music swagger. It is simply a perfect song – club ready, catchy, with amazing lyrics. The Pop Kids is vintage 80’s style PSB – witty lyrics and wry observations delivered over pop electronic music. Always different, always the same? That was said in reference to The Fall, but I think it applies to the Pet Shop Boys too. The lyrics kind of remind me of the Britpop scenesters of the mid 90’s. Yes, I pretended to be a part of that I suppose. The Dictator Decides sounds like an outtake from the Neil and Chris penned soundtrack from 2005 for the classic 1920’s silent film, Battleship Potemkin. Eerie synths, sinister vocals – it is a welcome dark passage in the album. “Of course I’m in league with the army / It’s not like I’ve got any choice / They officially adore me and my father before me / But gunpoint has a firm voice”. Sad Robot World seems to cover territory previously mined by The Flaming Lips and Damon Albarn but from the unique vantage point of the Pet Shop Boys. It lives up to the title – an exercise in sadness relating to the techno babble of the modern world. Minimal electronic beats with stunning orchestration and the plaintive sighs of a weary Neil Tennant – what’s not to love? “Sad robot world / where you ponder leisure / created for your pleasure / Sad robot world / Machinery is sighing / I thought I heard one crying”. Burn is not a cover of The Cure, rather, it is a club anthem that’ll have you moving to the beat in no time. The song builds towards a euphoric crescendo as only the Pet Shop Boys can do. “There’s a full moon glowing red above the sea / and I feel the sudden heat between you and me / We’re gonna burn this disco down before the morning comes”.
Another above average album from Pet Shop Boys that I highly recommend.
For Fans of: Kraftwerk, New Order, The Smiths, Flight of the Conchords, Depeche Mode, Erasure
- The Pop Kids
- The Dictator Decides
- Inner Sanctum
- Sad Robot World
- Say It To Me
- Into Thin Air