Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are dependably inventive, yet also revered names in the firmament of electronic pop music, and as a result Electric feels at once like a bold new beginning and a homage to dancefloors they’ve known and loved.
Pet Shop Boys
x2, Kobalt, £13.99
Rating: * * *
Tennant and Lowe are too canny to slip back into relying on tricks which have worked for them in the past, so even as the old-school squelching keyboard thump and synthesised strings of the Italo-disco opener Axis kick in, it feels like an attempt to reclaim a dancefloor they’ve only rarely written exclusively for.
It proves to be one of the highs of an album which is patchy but at times confidently compelling.
Bolshy is Pet Shop by numbers, its title lazily repeated ad nauseam in place of a chorus, but Love Is A Bourgeois Construct lives up to its title, a typically arch piece of hi-NRG which namechecks Karl Marx and Tony Benn to the backing of a Go West-style male voice choir.
There’s a charming mid-section to the record, taking in Fluorescent, Inside A Dream and unlikely Springsteen cover The Last To Die, in which producer Stuart Price steers the pair through a crisp retro-futurist clubland landscape, before the frankly parodic Deadmau5-style Shouting In The Evening, a track which makes the link between Tennant’s ghost-in-the-machine croon and an industrial thump designed for sweaty junior ravers to get their “taps aff” and wave glowsticks to in a warehouse. It sounds like a gauche aural gag, but it also makes a bold additional weapon for their live arsenal.
And, as demonstrated by the closer, Vocal, the Pet Shop Boys are masters of finding a sense of anthemic warmth within the machine. David Pollock
Download this: Axis, Vocal