July , 2013
Review by Jessica Pardee
Pet Shop Boys
Label: X2 Records
Synth pop duo The Pet Shop Boys will release their 12th studio album Electric, on July 16th. The album produced by Stuart Price, whose credits include Madonna and New Order, will also be the first album to be independently released via their own label, X2 records.
Electric serves as the follow up to last year's Elysium, a very down-tempo album that unfortunately was not widely embraced. Electric revisits the classic Pet Shop Boy's formula as it shifts back to their musical roots, which began with the inspired vibrant club scenes of the UK and NYC during the early 80's.
Consider it a tribute to the thoughts and emotions of youth. We can still count on Tennent and Lowe to bring commentary to one's personal life as well as biting social awareness to their lyrics. This does not mean it's all-boorish though as they incorporate primal dance numbers into the mix.
Standout track "Thursday" features widely popular U.K. rapper Example, wildly purporting a playful celebration of a long weekend with a lover. While "Vocal" is an homage to nightlife as the song's imagery and arrangement make you feel as if you are at the club feeling the pulse of the music. Odd, though effective, is a cover of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's "The Last to Die" that transforms the song from classic rock into a masterful pop anthem. The first single is the instrumental opening track "Axis", hypnotic and otherworldly, it encompasses the overall narrative of the record.
Accessible on a wider scale than some of their more recent albums and while more insightful and interesting, Electric doesn't lend itself to the pop appeal of past successes. Though it could be regarded as a companion to 2012's Elysium, it holds true as a stand-alone in the Pet Shop Boy catalog. Electric is familiar territory, but also a new beginning. A returning fan may embrace it, but new fans could start with this and go on without necessarily visiting any or all of the Pet Shop Boy's earlier albums.