Far from retirement, the British electro-pop pioneers, Pet Shop Boys, return for a their 12th studio release, a pulsing album of electric energy. Some fans who may have been left feeling empty after the PSB’s prior release (2012’s low-key Elysium) due to lack of signature disco-pop tunes will not find themselves disappointed by Electric. The very title prepares one for a plethora of club tracks and guilty – but not too guilty – pop pleasures. Though they’ve released many reflective and wise albums since 90’s classic disco-infused Very (which included a handful of dance anthems), not since then have Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe crafted a consistently danceable and, well… fun album.
The dramatic introduction, “Axis”, throws us immediately into the mix with synthetic vocals and soaring vintage-sounding synth lines. “Bolshy” transitions to the related and subtle communist themed “Love is a Bourgeois Construct.” Never an act to shy away from sardonic wit and lack of brevity in song titles, this deceivingly but delightfully cheery song brings back memories of older PSB tunes such as “How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?”, “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk,” and “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing.”
The minimalistic beats and vocals on “Fluorescent” and the Kraftwerk-esque “Inside A Dream” wind down to the somber and surprising cover of Bruce Springsteen’s anti-war anthem, “The Last To Die.”
Shifting to an optimistic tone, “Shouting in the Evening” stands out as one of the more danceable club-friendly tracks with catchy hooks and Tennant’s vocals urging us on with a vaguely old-school vibe, “what a feeling, shouting in the evening.”
“Thursday” also presents a PSB first with guest rapper, Example. The final feel-good track “Vocal,” convinces us “Everything about tonight feels right and so young / it’s in the music / they play it all night long,” which may very well be the best way to play Electric.
By Alissa Hooper