Pet Shop Boys

X@, 2013


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The kind of album that Electric turned out to be is no surprise. A fan-pleasing dance album was imminent after the 2012’s somber effort, Elysium, which was almost akin to a swansong: a pensive album that was suggestive of a band accepting their age and where they stand in life’s grand scheme, ready to throw in the towel. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe might have been in a reflective mood on that disc, but they are far from wanting to retire, or so it seems is the message they spell out, brimming with confidence and vigor on Electricmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . This is an album of youth and rejuvenation. There couldn’t be a record as far apart from Elysium as Electric.

This release is easily the bounciest and clubbiest record in the Pet Shop Boys catalog. Not only is this a full-on dance record, but it seems as if the band has created this record specifically for the club. The usual Pet Shop Boys numbers – no matter how dancey they are – always had a great pop song behind them, but not this one. Electric is not so much about uplifting dance-pop songs as it is about creating an atmosphere: an atmosphere of being in a club, of being bombarded with unrelenting beats from start to finish. It sounds like a record that Lowe might have enjoyed making the most and has the experimental feel of the duo’s B-side record, Alternative, with its long freeform musical pieces.

Even with only nine songs, Electric is almost 50 minutes long, with most numbers exceeding or close to the six minute mark. This is an unusual album in that compared to the lengths of the songs, the vocal parts are pretty sparse. As a matter of fact, on “Axis” and “Shouting In The Evening,” the vocals seem as if they are present only to add a rhythmic dynamic to the music. This effect is less so on “Bolshy,” “Fluorescent,” and “Inside A Dream,” where there is substance to the lyrical content, but the words almost seem to take a step back to the music.

The cuts on this album are shiny and unabashedly clubby with their meaty, assaulting beats and aggressive synthesizer sounds. Tennant and Lowe seem to have more energy than ever on this record. And this energy has led to nine feverishly foot-tapping instant dancefloor classics. Electric should go down in the history books as one of the finest in the Pet Shop Boys catalog, which is high praise, considering that in terms of creativity, there was hardly a low point in this band’s long and illustrious career.

Rating: A

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