Four listens into the new Pet Shop Boys record, Electric, and I have to say it is their best complete offering in ages, maybe since “Very.” Of the nine tracks, only “Bolshy” fails to excite, but really isn’t that far off the mark. Many (including myself) felt that “Elysium” spelled the end for the band, but we were all very, very wrong. “Electric” is every bit the Pet Shop Boys doing what they do best.
1. Axis – A hard dance floor splitter that signals this record is the polar opposite of their last offer. Sparse lyrics and driving dance beats call out to past classics like “We All Feel Better in the Dark,” while retaining a modern edge.
2. Bolshy – When you produce a record with only nine tracks, a song like this usually is relegated to B-Side status. It isn’t a terrible song, but does lack the ingenuity and melody that defines the rest of the record. It would have been nice to drop this track and insert a slower electro classic like “Rent.”
3. Love is a Bourgeois Construct – This song is the moment where this record actually takes flight. It is a wonderfully catchy pop song that I wasn’t sure Neil and Chris could create anymore. Sardonic lyrics, steeped in philosophy and social commentary, are married to driving, soaring electric melodies, creating a song that deserves to be a huge hit.
4. Fluorescent – Stark, minimalist and driving – this track pulls you into its slow, dark world and makes you feel like cruising through the streets of London at midnight. It is very much a PSB track, but also has its roots in the world of Georgio Moroder.
5. Inside a Dream - For me, this track has the best moment of this record. At the 2:17 mark it delivers such a classic, euphoric Pet Shop Boys moment that it gave me goose bumps. The track is an excellent euro-disco classic!
6. The Last to Die – This track is actually a cover of a Bruce Springsteen song from his 2007 release, “Magic.” Like most PSB covers, the song morphs into something that sounds naturally written by the boys. It is awash with shimmering vocals and strong pop melody, while maintaining the original intent from the Boss.
7. Shouting in the Evening – Pop is left by the roadside as this raging techno track kicks into gear. It has very minimalist lyrics and could slot straight into any club’s playlist. It rarely stops to let you catch your breath and makes you drive your car 100mph.
8. Thursday - This track fights “Inside a Dream” for the highlight of the record. It is a true, classic Pet Shop Boys single and has its roots firmly planted in the early Bobby Orlando-era. Really, it could have easily been a track on “Please.” The biggest draw for this single is Chris Lowe’s Paninaro-esque chorus, “Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday…” His Blackpool accent is the greatest!
9. Vocal – Another classic style PSB track, very much like the little brother of “It’s Alright.” It is such an infectious song and the perfect way to end this record. You will be bobbing along to the track and singing its minimal lyrics all day. It also features some really inventive moments of drum programming for such a well-worn club track.