on 23 December 2013
I like the people, I like the song, this is my kind of music, they play it all night long.
The first time I heard Vocal, I couldn't believe it was PSB, it's an epic tune. I am gutted I haven't been able to get to a show this year, just for that, all those lasers. I was filled with utter green envy watching that crowd go bananas on the concert they did in Buenos Aires almost at the beginning of the Electric Tour.
I have been a fan for a long time, because they have been around for a long time, and I feel I have learnt alot through their influences, in art, history, social observations etc... but I think Electric is almost devoid of it's need to get deep, like another review on here, it's less about the lyrical content, the story and more about the energy and excitement. It feels more like a Chris Lowe project than a Neil Tennant one for sure, but the lyrics are still exceptional on some tracks.
I don't know what anyone else thought when they announced they were doing a Bruce Springsteen song, but I thought 'oh dear' but it is gorgeous, I have even found myself listening to the original, and I never thought I would do that! Electric has had comparisons to Introspective, but I feel it's more like Please, and I am enjoying it immensely, i'm probably going to go deaf from the volume, shame you can't really drive with lasers in the car.
With every artist, you cannot please everyone all the time and as a fan you can't like everything that is released. I can't bear 'Before' and they released that as a single over 'It always comes as a suprise' which is honestly beautiful and of it's time.
Anyway, Electric is exciting and the first of 3 albums they are doing with Stuart Price I read, if this is what they are starting with, then I will be intrigued and excited to see where they go next.
Also I hope they do some more shows next year, i'm not yet fully fulfilled.
While last year's "Elysium" was downtempo, world-weary and a bit of a revisiting of well-trodden PSB territory, "Electric" - produced by dance wunderkind Stuart Price - is that album's antithesis: it's uptempo, energetic and fresh-sounding.
The opener to the album is really a statement of intent, without the usual verse/chorus structure we've come to expect from the Boys, and in fact featuring hardly any vocals at all. The message is clear: this is no ordinary PSB studio album. It's a great - if slightly overlong - start.
Interlaced with lines spoken in Russian (probably an allusion to the derivation of the word "bolshy"), we get to hear Neil Tennant singing for the first time on the album. Halfway through there's a dream of a breakdown that features the kind of cowbells, handclaps and orchestral hits that might have come straight from the Phil Harding remix of "Always On My Mind" circa 1987. A brilliantly catchy track.
3. "Love Is A Bourgeois Construct"
This track is backdropped against a Purcell melody that'll be instantly recognisable to virtually everyone (Michael Nyman also used this melody in his soundtrack to The Draughtsman's Contract). Like most PSB songs based on classical compositions, it doesn't quite work, but it's still highly enjoyable nonetheless.
With a sample of what sounds like someone grunting for a snare drum and banks of wibbling synthesisers that constantly threaten to wibble off key, "Fluorescent" is gloriously sleazy-sounding. Tennant sings about a person's beauty and fame, and how both are destined - just like a fluorescent light bulb - not to last forever. Along the way he manages to rhyme "mark" with "oligarch".
5. "Inside A Dream"
The previous track's less sleazy sibling, "Inside A Dream" is a sublime track with a spritely bassline and a percussion sound that might have been lifted straight from Mel & Kim's "Showing Out". There's something indefinably wonderful - dreamy, even - about this song.
6. "The Last To Die"
The only track on the album not written by Tennant and Lowe, this is probably the strongest song on the album, and a testament to Bruce Springsteen's songwriting skills. It somehow manages to be both euphoric and heartbreaking at the same time, and is reminiscent of "Human" by The Killers (also produced by Stuart Price).
7. "Shouting In The Evening"
This track is light on vocals, and is really just based around a single synth riff - but what a riff! Hi-energy, pounding, infectious: that riff would get any club going. My only complaint is that the track goes out with a whimper rather than the bang it deserves.
"Thursday" has the same kind of bassline and synth pads as the Boys' first ever hit "West End Girls" 28(!) years ago. "I wanna know you're gonna stay for the weekend," sings Tennant, followed by Chris Lowe listing the days of the week from Thursday to Sunday. Then up pops Example, whose rapping/singing style suits the song to a T.
The first "proper" single from the album, "Vocal" is an ode to nightclubbing that, suitably enough, is in the generic style of a clubbing track. The melody - or the vocal - lifts it above the average club fodder though, and, as ever, Tennant's voice sounds so right laid on top of an electro dance track.
This is the best Pet Shop Boys album since 1993's "Very", and the most exciting since 1988's "Introspective". You have to wonder whether it's been made possible by the Boys' departure from Parlophone, a label who'd possibly been demanding "Radio 2-friendliness" ever since the Boys' records were dropped from Radio 1's playlists (if so, those same record company execs will be flagellating themselves with their own rulebooks when they hear this album). Or maybe the Boys are just overly fond of coming up with lush, middle-of-the-road ballads.
Either way, it's the energetic tracks that made the Pet Shop Boys' name. I'll never forget the first time I heard the over-the-top thunderousness of "It's A Sin", nor the first time I heard an old Elvis ballad transformed into a joyous show-stopper. "Electric" has the same kind of feel to it, and I can imagine it becoming the soundtrack to summer 2013 for many people. It's been a long time coming, but the Pet Shop Boys are back on top form.
on 5 November 2013
Barely 12 months since the release of 'Elysium' and embarking on another tour, I don't know how the Tennant/Lowe stable have found the energy and room in the diary to provide us with latest offering 'Electric.' Now on their own label, the premiss for this album is to throw the rule book out of the window and stray completely off the beaten track of traditional song structure. Exciting eh?!
With complete contrast to 'Elysium', this is PSB hardcore- The synths and sequencers charge out of the speakers like a herd of wild animals who have been chained up for an eternity. Of course, courtesy of messrs Lowe/Gleadall and on this outing 'Les Rythmes Digitales' Stuart Price. This album would not look out of place in Pet Shop Boys' 'Disco' series of long players.
However, it doesn't quite live up to previous dance offering 'Very/Relentless' from 1993,but it is a refreshing PSB journey, proving continued relevancy with guest vocals from Example on track 'Thursday' as well as new material for the massive established for life, fan base. Opener 'Axis' sets the scene nicely for the rest of the album and would fit nicely as an intro to Neil and Chris' tour set. Time for a well deserved rest boys? No chance!!
on 16 July 2013
Although it's silly to call "Electric" Pet Shop Boys comeback record considering their latest the ill-fated "Elyssium" came out only a year ago but, as such, "Electric" sounds and feels like the record's a band has waited decades to make for re-launching their career.
"Electric" is PSB most relevant and best record since at least "Very" and to some extent even further back.
Produced by Stuart Price who surely helped re-inventing their classic synths sounds of the 80s, it's clear as the almost intrumental stomping hi-nrg anthem that is "Axis" kicks off that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were set on fire while making this record, forgetting about the cultural-clash of ageing popstars that pushed them to make vacual records for the past ten years at least and returning to the harder/harsher/cheesier original template they are known for.
Because after all no-one does hi-nrg dance-pop divaesque anthems as they do.
So if "Axis" sets the scene, with his epic but never cheesy synth-line and Stuart Price signature rolling dance production, so well exemplified on Madonna's last great album "Confessions On The Dancefloor", while Tennant whispers in you ears 'Turn It Up' and go... bang, "Axis" sounds somewhere between Italo-Disco/Acid House and Hard-House... in other words: a banger.
Things get camp on the excellent "Bolshy", a track that sees the duo laying a chorus as catchy as classics "It's A Sin" or "West End Girls" flipping over and they return to the politically charged but hugely catchy "Love Is A Bourgeois Construct" featuring some of the finest lyrics since classic 80s PSB. The latest as anthemic as "Go West".
In fact "Electric" is a winner by being short and almost fillers free, they manage to turn the usually hideous Example interesting on the radio-friendly "Thursday".
"Electric" is, in one word, essential. As they proved on recent live shows (including headlining appearance at Sonar) Pet Shop Boys remain on the most striking 80s pop entity and four decades in as unique as the day "West End Girls" first graced the airwaves. They might end up picking up some new fans along the way.
on 29 August 2014
Definitely the strongest thing they've produced in years. I slightly dreaded this release as I'm certainly not what you would call a "dance music" fan. I've always been drawn to Pet Shop Boys by their melodic gifts, interesting lyrics and arrangements but this, their most dance floor orientated release perhaps ever, also happily includes some of the most fresh and interesting songs of their career. Elysium had some moments but it's lows (looking at you "Winner") were enough to bring it down considerably in my estimation. A year since acquiring it I'm still keeping this album in my all time PSB top 5.
on 24 October 2013
I love, love, love the PSB, and have done ever since West End Girls. I'm absolutely desperate to love this CD too - but I just can't. I hoped it might be a grower, but it's just not to my taste.
I do like Bourgeois Construct and The Last To Die - but I just can't get into the rest. I've played it to death, but still can't warm to it. There's too much 80s-acid-house type stuff. I love cheesy, ironic, laid back - but I don't love rather tedious house music style.
I'm back to listening to their last three albums in the car instead.
Such a shame!
on 20 July 2013
As an album this flows beautifully, the songs are all top quality pop - the kind you'll listen to in 30yrs and think - wow I had great taste.
The songs are structured really well(Neil Tennant's Cole Porter wit everpresent), are full of hooks to my ear and and the sound quality is soooo good - more funk than your radio. It'll definitely make you tap your toes/finger click/head nod...dare I say even dance.
Fave: Inside a Dream (best one on here) - tight rolling rhythmic synth sharp/funkier than anyhthing Michael Jackson ever did and Love/Construct. My least favourite track would be Thursday - I just can't get into the 'rap' part...but thankfully this rapper sings following that and has a great voice...that is my only gripe. If their singles were better than most of their b-sides and album tracks then this could be a greatest hits from a parallel universe, it's really that good.
I once felt they had had it - around the Nightlife album and NYC boy and Drunk singles - I was sad.
My opinion may change later, I doubt it, but at this point this IS their best album. Sooo much better than Yes.
I just can't belief how well they've topped themselves yet again....it's given me a great new album buzz...I don't get those very often.
Only a few other albums this year have this buzz to them: IAMX/OMD oh,and Gesaffelstein and Crystal Castles and Erasure and Boys Noize,
on 21 September 2013
I hadn't bought a Pet Shop Boys album in years, despite being a massive fan into my late teens. But I had heard (and loved!) "Love is a Bourgeois Construct", and read that their new album was produced by Stuart Price, and a friend told me that this was their best since Introspective... So I ordered it, and it really is their best since Introspective. Recognisably Pet Shop Boys, with some great 90s rave sounds,but thoroughly contemporary. This deserves to give them a new audience who didn't know them years ago. Brilliant. Buy it.
on 16 July 2013
No downtempo tracks on this album; it's full on electronic dance from beginning to end. This has a very electronic vibe with some truely out there sounds.
Listen to Fluorescent for a good example of how well crafted the electronica is on this album.
Listen to Bolshy to make you smile and dance (even has its own acid house breakdown in the middle).
Truely outstanding album.
on 19 November 2013
In which we find the boys making their most musically consistent album for quite a while. Not that Yes and Elysium were bad (brilliant uptempo and downtempo bedmates, in my view), but Electric delivers what it promises in the title - upfront electronic dance music. If this album has antecedents, it is Disco vol. 1 or Relentless, not Very, Please or Actually. It is full-on and bears homage to 1980s hi-NRG in particular. Opener Axis, for example, deliberately quotes a spacey electronic burn at the one minute mark that crops up in the intro to Patrick Cowley's mighty Menergy, a hi-NRG stomper featuring gay disco diva Sylvester. In fact, the whole song is an update of Menergy. Closing track Vocal recalls the fantastic Trouser Enthusiasts remixes done for the boys in the Bilingual era. In between all this we get some great electronic textures on Fluorescent (a little echo of Fade To Grey in there, methinks) and Inside a Dream, witty Tennant lyrics on Bolshy and Love Is A Bourgeois Concept (who else would try and work "schadenfreud" into a single's lyrics?), the potentially throwaway b-side-sounding Shouting In The Evening, which in producer Stuart Price's hands becomes a modern bleep-infested stormer, and which perfectly sets up the following track, the Example collaboration Thursday. Hell, we even get what sounds like the gay mens chorus from Go West popping up on Bourgeois Construct (although they sound a bit worse for wear, admittedly). Having admired PSBs as a singles band for many years, bemoaning the fact that their best tracks often seemed to be released as single b-sides (In The Night, Do I Have To?, Sexy Northerner, Always, Your Funny Uncle, It Must Be Obvious ... the list goes on), and that their albums often had big hits mixed in with at times thin filler, this album IS a triumph of programming and worthy of the critics' plaudits. A bit short at 49 mins but thats my only criticism. oh, and the Springsteen cover should have been reworked as a single - splendid stuff.