Artist: Pet Shop Boys
CD Title: Electric
Label: X2 (Kobalt)
Genre: New Wave, synthpop
Pet Shop boys are back with their 12th studio album Electric. Electric is the 2013 release from the veteran British Synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. Electric appears hot the the tail of and less than a year after their 11th studio album Elysium.
It features eight new Pet Shop Boys songs, plus a cover of Bruce Springsteen's anti-war track "Last to Die expertly produced by Stuart Price, best known for his work with Madonna and The Killers. "The album often evolves as a response to our previous album and, whereas Elysium had a reflective mood, Electric is pretty banging!" Producer Stuart Price said the album's sound was developed via "various techniques between old school synth and drum machine programming and new school computer mangling." It is also interesting to note, that they left their long time relationship with Parlophone Records, to start their own label x2 (pronounced times two) distributed through Kobalt.
You all know who Pet Shop Boys is by now and if not, you have certainly been living under a rock. If you need to know more about Pet Shop Boys, I suggest that you use the internet, Wikipedia or Discogs is a great place to start.
In the meantime, I will continue for the rest of the 99.9 % of people who do already know Pet Shop Boys rich and impressive history. I'm just going to dive right in.
When Pet Shop Boys released the first single off the upcoming album Electric called "Axis", I thought "wow are they working with electro disco God, Giorgio Moroder"? I was so excited. I thought "it's about damned time"! Giorgio has already worked with the best of the best, like Donna Summer,The Three Degrees,Japan, David Bowie, Philip Oakey ( Human League)Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Adam Ant, Pat Benatar, Berlin. Bonnie Tyler,Blondie, Freddie Mercury (Queen) and even worked his magic on the new Daft Punk album.
After some research, I saw that it sadly was not Giorgio Moroder that produced this album but rather pop music producer Stuart Price. The Boys have been circling around him for years. Their remix of Madonna’s Confessions single “Sorry” preceded the Price-produced medley they performed at the 2009 BRIT Awards, and Stuart’s reworking of last year’s “Memory Of The Future.” So it was only a matter of time before the Boys would be working with Mr. Price.
You know the saying "can I have more coffee with my sugar",? you know, when you put too much sugar in your coffee, thus the sugar being the overpowering force? It should be called "Stuart Price Featuring Pet Shop Boys, Pays Homage to the Classics". This feels very Stuart Price and very little Pet Shop Boys. Was Chris Lowe even present for any of this album or was he taking a long deserved break?
Electric starts off on an incredible note with the old school, cyber disco track Axis. I thought that they captured the magic of Giorgio Moroder as close as one can without actually working with Giorgio Moroder.
Bolshy is most definitely the worst Pet Shop Boys record they have ever made. The incessant, mind numbing repetition of the awful hook, just makes you want to take your stereo, computer, I pod, record or CD player and just smash it violently into pieces. I really think they could use this track as a form of governmental torture. Having to listen to this track at all, more less more than once, is just pure, unnecessary torture. Pure crap. It has no place on this album (or anywhere else for that matter).
We return to the Moroder-esque sound with Love Is A Bourgeois Construct . I love this track, it reminds me of Europe's The Final Countdown. It also has that old school Hi-NRG sound. The melody is very similar to Man 2 Man's flamboyant front man Paul Zone's, club hit "I'll Try Anything Once (featuring the fabulous Debbie Harry". Think Pet Shop Boys cover of the Village People classic "Go West" meets Man 2 Man meets Giorgio Moroder, and you get probably their most deliciously gay anthem ever. Absolutely epic!
"Fluorescent", pays homage to Steve Strange and his merry band of electro misfits Visage with a melody and almost the exact analogue sweeping synths from their timeless classic "Fade To Grey". Steve will be thrilled by such a compliment I'm sure.
"Inside A Dream", reminds me of the 90's techno days, meets once again, Giorgio Moroder. Now before you think you are going to be hearing LA Style's hard pounding "James Brown Is Dead", let me assure you that is not the kind of techno I am talking about. The 90's featured some of the most melodic and atmospheric techno to ever be created . 808 State instantly comes to mind with their massive hit "Pacific". Really great track. very sleeze, electro disco.
Once again tipping the hat to the master of electronic music Giorgio Moroder. "The Last To Die" starts as if it could easily be an extension of the previous track "Inside A Dream". The Stuart Price production influence is perhaps the strongest here, as it instant reminds you of Madonna's Confessions On A Dance Floor album.
"Shouting In The Evening" is perhaps the most contemporary sounding track on the whole album. You can once again hear Stuart Price's production with Daft Punk strongly peeking through. Though it is an interesting track, it is probably the weakest track on Electric, except for of course, the truly awful "Bolshy", which either belongs in the trash bin or an obscure B side at best.
"Thursday" is a direct hit in terms of actually revisiting the signature and classic Pet Shop Boys sound of the 80's. It seems for this track Chris Lowe who's influence has been missing from most of Electric is once again present. Thursday feels the most like Pet Shop Boys that I have heard in years. Though it's not terrible, I could live without the rap. Welcome back Boys. Really great song. High drama ensues with huge disco strings and a grand piano hook that would make Liberace smile.
Electric finishes off on a rather good note, with the aptly titled "Vocal". "Vocal" is the 2nd single from Electric. It's back to the 90's with the anthem house influence strongly and proudly present. Their 1999 album Nightlife and songs like New York City Boy springs to mind. This one is destined to be a huge club hit.
So if you are ready to hear our beloved Pet Shop Boys in a new, yet classically retro direction, cleverly infused with a nice dose of contemporary pop, then you'll love Electric.
Sadly, at least at this point, there are no special extended, or Deluxe editions with bonus remixes or extra tracks. So pretty much what you see, is what you get. However, if you are a vinylfreak, then you'll be happy to know that a limited edition 2 LP vinyl will also be available.
Check out this official preview of the album
Check out the video from their new single Vocal
Buy Pet Shop Boys Electric on Amazon
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