Stuart Price’s continued ability to work miracles and rejuvenate aging popstars has been his calling card for the last 10 years, for his latest success story he manages to make two synth pop legends from a by-gone era relevant again, we are of course talking about the Pet Shop Boys.
That’s not to say the duos 12th studio album, ‘Electric’, isn’t a cheesy walk down nostalgia lane – for instance ‘Love Is A Bourgoies Construct’ is so far gone there’s no way to spin as anything other than piece of hi-nrg gay pop. But wherever you have Mr Price, you have his army of synths, and throughout the album Price drags Tennant and Lowe into the 21st century whether they like it or not.
‘Electric’ is unmistakably a Price album at heart, the title-track ‘Axis’ kicks off the album in a blaze of synth glory – but crucially it’s still a Pet Shop Boys’ track at its core; and that’s the thing about this album it will almost certainly satisfy fans of both Stuart Price and the Pet Shop Boys. ‘Bolshy’ leans more towards a traditional tongue-and-cheek PSB sound – but it still manages to find a common ground between the piano stabs, one-dimensional vocal, and Price’s futuristic take on their 30-year-old synth pop experiment.
‘Electric’ sees Tennant and Lowe revitalised and reinvigorated, and when the duo are explore the darker side of their influence that’s where the album begins to really succeed, ‘Flourescent’ is a case in point; it’s a rhythmic techno track that’s given a pop edge from the duos weary vocals. Then the album starts to hit its stride by the time you ‘Inside A Dream’ a heady mix of vocal samples and steady percussion set against hook-y house rhythms – it’s almost certainly an early favourite. There’s even an unexpected appearance from Example, for the album’s only funk moment, and surprisingly it’s not a total failure – actually it’s quite good.
The Pet Shops Boys have always been seen as gay icons and instead of making album as a statement to sexual inequality, it seems that they made an album that suits the changes the duo have witnessed in the sweaty basement of Berlin’s Berghain whilst recording their new album. Ultimately ‘Electric’ manages to find a real sense of balance between light and dark, gay and straight, pop and electro, and while it might not be revolutionary in musical terms – it’s still well worth your time.
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