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4.1 out of 5 stars
Fundamental
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2006
Fundamental is their most complete album since 1993's Very but in contrast to the cartoon pop of Very, this is a dark and brooding state of the nation record. Lead single I'm with Stupid sounds like a lost gem from the 1980s, full of Trevor Horn bombast and neatly encapsulates the Blair/Bush relationship in the line "you grin, I pose", Minimal is Kraftwerk meets New Order and the gorgeously sad Luna Park imagines America as a sinister fairground awaiting imminent destruction. Bonus disc Fundamentalism contains the sublime Richard X collaboration Fugitive.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
There was a considerable amount of positive hype about this album and for me this was a little offputting. Record companies and critics often big an album up to prove a point or cover weaknesses in it. In fact the PSB's previous offering "Release" was quite well received by critics but itself contained many weaknesses. All I can say is that Pet Shop Boys certainly know how to put things right. Wow! What a fantastic album. Everything is here, very Pet shop boys, very New Order in some parts, very sad and also laugh out loud in others.

The opener "Psychological" will take a while for non fans to get in to but its minimalist beats and general weirdness is a match made in heaven - almost like the modern harder version of "left to my Own Devices". The lead single "I'm With Stupid" is a little PSB by numbers but the production values are frankly AMAZING. Thankfully the second single to be released in late July, "Minimal" is an album highpoint - very New Order in the last minute or two but also very PSB - excellent dance rhythms, worked around a Kraftwek-esque beat. The orchestral arrangements are wonderous and the only track I am not sure about is "Indefinite Leave to Remain" - for me just one too many ballads. Other than that, this is my favourite album of the year and is likely to stay that way.

The album itself has lots of interlude type moments with slamming doors, background shouting and traffic noise, even a section with a sample from Chris Lowe (yes, the other one!)singing in to his phone on the way home from a night out - all designed to increase the dark atmosphere and present the album as a piece - very much like Imperial phase Pink Floyd. Oh how very very clever - but also very very good.

I am proud to own this album and believe that anyone who loves music and has an open mind about electronic music in particular, should own this very special piece of work. PSB should be proud of their new status as a truly British institution.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2007
"Psychological"

Gratifyingly electronic and a tad menacing with a spooky little synth refrain just before the word "Psychological"

"The Sodom and Gomorrah Show"

This song has a fantastic chorus, reminiscent of "It's a Sin" or "Shameless" - the kind of singalonga camp that the PSBs do better than anyone else.

"I Made My Excuses and Left"

This illustrates that the Boys can produce really quite moving, slow tempo songs just as well as the disco-based foot-stompers. Like "Your Funny Uncle", it is a perfectly crafted, melancholic mini-opera. Its more minimal production allows the message of the song, along with the wistful vocals, to take centre stage.

"Minimal"

Continues with the Kraftwerk-like vein of the first track. Good, `cos I like Kraftwerk. It sounds both retro and futuristic.

"Numb"

The only PSB album track not written or co-written by Neil or Chris since "It's Alright", I believe, so unusual in that respect. Having said that, it's a very good song (otherwise it would not have passed their quality control). I can see why they chose it as a single.

"God Willing"

Interesting if a bit cheeky of them to list it as a separate track. It consists of a minute of city noise which I'm sure adds to the feel of the album but it's not really a separate song but then again as it's them they're forgiven.

"Luna Park"

A bit REM-ish but that's not a bad thing. Spectral lyrics and an almost Pink Floyd-ish atmosphere.

"I'm with Stupid"

I don't like this very much for the same reasons I didn't like "Heart". Not a bad song per se, just a little meandering. Full marks for attacking Blair and Bush, though. Bet Neil won't get invited back to No. 10 for champers like he was when Tony came to power!

"Casanova in Hell"

The melody is wonderfully tuneful and quite sweet, developing into a pleasingly orchestral, almost melodramatic chorus. They're very good at chord changes, are the Boys.

"Twentieth Century"

I like the rhythm in this one, which sounds gentler than it actually is because of the relative lightness of the music.

"Indefinite Leave to Remain"

Clever title, given the thematic history of their sometimes ambivalent love songs. Seems to be they have a habit of rounding off their albums with a nice little love ditty (think "Footsteps" on "Nightlife"). Nowt wrong with that, except there's one more track!

"Integral"

PSBs do CCTV. The mood and vocal delivery suggests a police state where we are all watched "now we've got the mandate". That's it: DEFINITELY no more champagne at No. 10.

Pet Shop Boys are one of the very, very few artists who have never written a bad song. I don't like absolutely every single thing they've written but not particularly liking a song does not make it a bad song. The longevity of their career is testament to that. I know I sound like an old duffer (I'm not), but I've always liked the fact you can hear what Neil is singing. No semi-literate gabbling shouty youngsters here!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2014
Many years ago, the PSB's attacked those who put politics into their music, but this album (well, apart from the brilliant production, the surging strings and the pounding rhythms and New-Order-Trevor Horn-Kraftwerk references) DRIPS with political statements, a real oddity for the boys, but each point is clearly worked out and carefully placed. I'm sure the boys would have loved to have slapped our faces by calling the album "The Sodom & Gomorrah Show", but, as we know, ALL PSB albums HAVE to be single-word titles, so "Fundamental" DOESN'T refer to a return to their roots, it is surely an abbreviation of "Fundamentalist", which is where, according to this album, the world's governments seem to be heading. "Psychological" seems to be questioning our own personal world-views and how they are distorted by the media and politicians: "It's second nature to you/All in the mind", "Minimal" dictates the world view: "A cell, but not for a criminal". "Luna Park" works on a number of levels; a vision of post-911 America, a threat to the gay world, a threat to Britain or the world, a way in which we are fooled by our governments "And when we're feeling scared we're happy/with circuses and bread we're happy". "I'm With Stupid" is an acerbic attack on the Blair/Bush relationship "It's not about sincerity/everybody knows". "Twentieth Century" looks back over our post-war (but still imperialistic) world, and mulls that while we think we are improving things, we are actually causing newer and bigger problems. When I hear the line "And I cheered when the statues fell/Everyone came to destroy what was rotten/but they killed off what was good as well", I see Saddam Hussein's statue being torn down, but a whole Jihad rising in its place. "Indefinite Leave To Remain" is a double-bluff. We think we see the situation of a lover being likened to an immigrant, but the song really seems to be about Immigration for the suffering seeking a safe homeland, and whether or not Britain will... or can... provide it. A further thought is directed at us. Is our land now a safe one to live in? Which, of course, leads us to the monumental "Integral", a swingeing attack on New World Orders, CCTV and computer monitoring and how our lives are all now on databases more inclusive than any past criminal.

So there you have it, a POLITICAL PSB album. I would even go so far as to say that "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show" is a political song as well. A blatant refusal to shut up and go away, or clamber back in the closet. Frankly, this album is just pure genius on so many levels that I think it has finally achieved being The Greatest Pet Shop Boys Album (well, the greatest DELIBERATE album release - the diversity of "Format" might just pip it... ) If you can think as well as dance, this is the most progrock of the PSB albums!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2008
Yet, this is still cause for celebration, since their previous album (Release) was really different and this one finally gave us their old style back but it's still a dark album even though 3 tracks are obvious hits (I'm with stupid, Minimal & Integral) but as I said in a previous review, they always have good albums and make wrong choices as singles. Come on, how dare they take Numb out as a single and leave Integral behind ? Sometimes I believe that they make wrong choices on purpose, not to have any number one single in the charts again. Every album has a potential single that is lost inside : Integral here, Up against it on Bi-lingual, The end of the world on Behaviour. One of the other reviewers said that I'm with stupid seems like a lost gem from the 80's, he obviously didn't listen to the track Fugitive that features on a special edition of Fundamental because THIS was a true return to form, like a real lost gem from the Actually days ! Like I said, they don't want number one singles anymore or else they wouldn't act this way !
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2006
The last PSB album, Release, seemed driven by guitar, piano and Neil's trademark meloncholic vocals. After what seems like an eternity, the Boys have gone back to basics - and they rock.

Fundamental takes us and them back to the very best of their early work - Electronic pop with grandiose, rolling melodies and fast, compelling lyrics. Listening to this album, you are constantly wrong- footed as the songs change direction unexpectedly and takes you elsewhere. Every track is a pleasure to listen to, without a single filler in sight. Fundamental sounds fresh and vibrant - Pet Shop Boys have never been better.

The truly stand- out tracks are Minimal, Numb, I'm With Stupid, Casanova In Hell, and Integral.

Go buy it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I completely disagree with the avid PSB fan who is disappointed by this superb fresh sounding cd. The Pet Shop Boys have finally released after some time a collection of perfect pop songs. Tennant is on top form with his lyrics "I apologised for what I didn't hear" is just sheer brilliance that stands alongside anything he has written before and smacks of Morrisey at his best. The music is just stunning. From the Kraftwerk like "Psychological" to the New Order like "Minimal" to the wonderful PSB branded dance numbers "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show", "I'm with Stupid" and "Integral", this is a real treat that will win new fans to a very worthy musical institution. And tracks like "Numb" and "I Made My Excuses and Left" will stay in your head all day. There simply isn't a weak track in sight! Fabulous stuff chaps!!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2007
I disagree with the reviewer that said there are too many slow songs on here. 'Behaviour' was crammed with ballads and was their best album. Furthermore, this is not full of ballads, it is 50-50. The ballads are indeed exceptional. I love 'I made my excuses and left.' The opening 1:40 is especially enchanting and the echoed voice rather eerie. 'Indefinite leave to remain' is also a classic Pet Shop Boys ballad, nicely orchestrated. Other soft songs are 'numb', an instantly memorable melody, 'luna park', just as good, and 'cassanova in hell' with some higher Tennant vocals and interesting lyrics, also a classic. The short instrumental 'God willing' is good, but if this was a stand alone track, then I feel the opening to 'Excuses...' should have also been a stand alone.

Of the upbeat tracks, 'Psychological' harks back to their earlier days, and is extremely effective and simplistic. 'The sodom and gomorrah show' has an infectious melody and some good chord changes. This is the Pet shop boys at their best. 'Minimal' sounds like New Order, and they even incoprorate some instrumental parts that sound exactly like the aforementioned band. Also a great track.

'Integral' has been praised a lot. I think it is really good, but not as amazing as some say.

'Twentieth century' is a bit filler to me, but still enjoyable.

The only track I don't care for is 'I'm with stupid'. The first single, but to me, a silly melody and the 'oh ohs' are extremely irritating.

Still a really good album, that I keep wanting to replay.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2011
This album is damned to forever languish amongst the variable output from Pet Shop Boys over the last 15 years or so. They are one of those bands who are far too frequently written off as "not as good as they were". This is a shame as this is a genuinely great piece of work. There really is not a bad track. Ok, maybe 'Numb' is a bit dull but still has a few good bits. The rest of the tracks are wonderful, produced with typical bombast by Trevor Horn. 'Integral' is probably the highlight. 2nd best PSB album after 'Actually'.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2006
This could be their best work; it's certainly right for 2006.

The slower songs reach dizzy heights not seen on a Pet Shop Boys record since Behaviour: Indefinite Leave To Remain and I Made My Excuses And Left explore the hope and sadness of love as well as Jealousy and To Face The Truth from their greatest album.

With Integral and I'm With Stupid, they strike at the heart of the New Labour they once championed in a way reminiscent of their ridicule of Thatcher's government of the eighties with Opportunities and Shopping. On Twentieth Century Neil Tennant recognises that he, along with many other well-intentioned people, was wrong about the Iraq War: "I bought a ticket to the revolution and cheered when the statues fell", but "Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem". Well, yes, that's what we were trying to tell you.

Other highlights are Minimal which is an epic younger sibling of New Order's True Faith and The Sodom and Gomorrah Show, an invitation to a fabulous party that would have Being Boring as its climax.

But the coup de grace is Numb. Yes, it is jarring to hear Neil Tennant sing the words "I don't wanna feel nothing"; he might have got the War wrong but he does know a thing or two about grammar. At first I was shocked to find myself keep going back to this song that wasn't written by the Pet Shop Boys and thinking "this is wonderful" - I thought I loved them because they were original. But then I thought of the songs they had recorded that they hadn't written - Always On My Mind, Go West, It's Alright. All classics, all improved by the Pet Shop Boys' treatment. I realised then why I really love the Pet Shop Boys: because they have taste and style and they recognise a great song and perform it the way it should be done.

They have indefinite leave to remain.
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