Album Review: Pet Shop Boys
Facts about this album:
* Pet Shop Boys are Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant.
* Pet Shop Boys recently received the Outstanding Contribution award at the 2009 Brit Awards, where they performed with Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers.
* ‘Yes’ is PSB’s tenth album, and was recorded with renowned pop production house Xenomania.
Pet Shop Boys were to pop what The Smiths were to indie; the most intellectual, British and fey practitioners that either medium has ever seen. Still, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s approach to longevity was more French & Saunders than Morrissey and Marr – carrying on up to luvvie national treasure status, their edge blunted stone by stone. And their dazzling golden oldies medley at this year’s Brits couldn’t disguise the fact they haven’t made a good album since 1999’s ‘Nightlife’ and not a great one since 1993’s ‘Very’.The producers of their 10th album – Xenomania – of course made British pop great again with Girls Aloud. Pet Shop Boys, meanwhile, wrote the last Girls Aloud single (and marvellously shoehorned into it the word “disinclined”). This is not the only connection here: both are staunch advocates of the notion that pop doesn’t have to be stupid. And while there’s none of the breakneck genre-splicing that’s Xenomania’s trademark here, the pairing nonetheless turns out to be a potent one. Songs dripping in sarcasm and sincerity are framed in pastel-coloured, crystal castles of sound, dense journeys into the sonic beyond that manage to remain classy. For the first time in years, Pet Shop Boys sound thrillingly modern. The songs, too, are the finest in years. ‘All Around The World’ echoes the understated majesty of second-ever single ‘Love Comes Quickly’, while ‘Pandemonium’ and ‘More Than A Dream’ bang in ways they haven’t since ‘New York City Boy’. It’s a quite startling return to form and, if you had your interest in Pet Shop Boys piqued by the Brits performance, also a fine re-entry point.