As my close friends and family know, I am quite biased when it comes to Pet Shop Boys. Yes, I am a fan. Yes, I am a diehard fan. Trying to collect as many pieces of their collection and making it mine. But, I am able to say “hey, this song is not good” or “what the hell were they thinking?” Kinda fair, in my opinion.
Pet Shop Boys release their twelfth studio album, Electric, today. The first album on their very own X2 label. I can be cliche about it and say that it is a “return to form”, and it is. I can also be cheesy and say it is “classic, dancefloor PSB”, and it is. The one thing that most people do not recognize about PSB is that their ears are always open and listening and learning. Electric is an album full of energy, over active movement that can only be controlled on the dancefloor or behind the wheel. Lets admit, speed is a huge factor in this album. Their niche is in house pop, but they add a little extra distortion, a little extra chaos to the mix. Making these songs perfect as the soundtrack to a weekend.
The songs on this album have a lot of straight forward to even bleak lyrics, which is quite welcoming. There is a tricky balance of music and lyrics, with the sounds obviously winning the match. But that is ok, considering previous albums where there is a lot of thought and meaning being brought to the front. Electric plays hosts to easy to remember, sing along lyrics that encourages the listener to participate. Even if it is just the chorus, these are lyrics that can be chanted along to in a live environment or hummed when just hanging out. But overall, it still remains a pop album, which is what they do best.
The album features their version of a Bruce Springsteen song, ‘The Last to Die’ from the album Magic (2007). As for covers, PSB have a small yet respectable set under their belt. With the most popular being ‘Always on my mind’ [Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson] to concert favorite & staples ‘Where the streets have no name’ [U2] and ‘Go west’ [Village People]. Did they really need another? Why not. They are pretty good at translating other peoples work. Their version of ‘The Last to Die’ sounds as if its one of their own. Standing out a bit, with more of the thought provoking sentiment that they are known to have but taken to a more casual level due to the musical atmosphere. Plus, it is always fun and interesting to hear what one of your favorite bands are listening to. Bruce Springsteen? I would not have believed it, but there it is!
Produced by Stuart Price, mastermind behind Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005), Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite (2010), and countless others that include New Order, The Killers, Seal, Scissor Sisters. A producer/musician/remixer who understands pop, this was a perfect collaboration. Bringing in classic synth sounds with modern production, you can heard the cold wave of a digital program being worked with a warm fuzz of analogue noise. Brought into the mix is British MC and producer Example, who gives ‘Thursday’ a little more edge to an already beat-heavy track.
The artwork is once again handled by Mark Farrow for Farrow Design. Sleak, clean, and quite minimal design which keeps it all tamed until you pop the record onto your turntable. The design is taken to the next step in The Vinyl Factory’s Limited Edition pressing of Electric. Spreading the nine songs onto 5 records, into a ‘custom-made, fluoroscent-edged, multi-coloured acrylic box’. Photography is by John Ross, who had photographed PSB for Fundamental (2006) and the pictures found in Disco 4. The photos found inside Electric are also used as the cover art for ‘Vocal’, the second single off the new album. Besides PSB, Ross has done photography for Deftones, Manic Street Preachers, and others.
Overall, this is a fantastic collection of songs that were thoughtfully produced and energetically designed to make you feel good. I am pretty sure that this can be easily mixed, both in its original version and remix version, within any dance party playlist. And I guarantee that it will. My only disappointment is that it should be a bit longer. For an album that is non stop from beginning to end and with a running time of 49:21, you would think that it is more than enough. Unfortunately it is not, and that is due to it being more musical and less verbal. See the balancing balancing trick? But in any case, it is a true to form electronic pop album, that is not cheese and that is not disposable.
For a quick reference of what you’re getting yourself into… Electric is a combination of electro house pop found on Disco 3 (2003) and on various b-sides from the Very (1993) and Bilingual (1996) eras, with slick remix/electo production which can be found on Disco 4 (2007).
PAIR THIS ALBUM WITH
Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut [France, Non vintage]
A light and crisp champagne, that is quite easy on the palette. One of my overall favorites. I have brought it to several social gatherings where it was well received. You can also enjoy this with a little bit of crushed strawberry or raspberry in it, bringing out more of its soft yet fruity tone. Do not over do it with the fruit however, keep it light and crisp!
The least expensive from the brand, the non vintage Grand Brut has a unique tone in which helps it stand out from the others. This is perfect for someone who is looking to venture into the champagne world. The bottles appearance is quite elegant as well. With a clean and reflective label, the design is attractive without overwhelming the eye with a lot of information while representing the champagne as it is.
Vinyl & Vino rating: 4 out of 5
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