‘ELECTRIC energy!’ The atmosphere was certainly electric, the energy barely suppressed at the Manchester Arena last Thursday when the Pet Shop Boys took to the stage to promote their new album, Electric, out 15 July.
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have now provided the soundtrack for the lives of a generation. Looking back, it’s hard to believe West End Girls was released in 1984. Where have the decades gone? Although, hopefully that means a suitably outrageous 30th anniversary celebration is on the cards for 2014... an Edinburgh Castle gig anyone? Now that would be something. Let’s start the campaign here.
In the meantime, there’s the new album, released through Kobalt, to consider. A collection of nine euphoric dance tracks, Electric finds the Boys at their clubbing best. It opens with Axis, a thumping Italo-beat influenced floor-filler of which Ken Laszlo would have been proud (YouTube him).
The following eight tracks demonstrate eclectic and, at times, surprising influences, while resolutely remaining undeniably Pet Shop Boys. However, by far the stand-out track for me is the aptly titled Love Is A Bourgeois Construct - beautifully succinct lyrics laid over an ear worm-hook that invokes memories of that wonderful baroque pop quartet Rondo Veneziano. You’d recognise their one and only hit, La Serenissima, which STV used as a station ident for years.
Other tracks boast equally obscure influences. Fluorescent conjures memories of everything from early Visage to John Carpenter’s Duke’s theme from the original Escape From New York, while Inside A Dream is more minimalist and beat driven.
Shouting In The Evening and Bolshy are guaranteed to go down well in sweaty late night dance-offs, while a Bruce Springsteen cover, The Last To Die, will catch a few out.
Thursday and Vocal are perhaps the most typically ‘Pet Shop Boys’ of all the tracks - the lyrics of the latter thoughtful, of the former reflective.
Of course, they’d all sound better being belted out across the Castle Esplanade. Wouldn’t they?