Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yes - Pet Shop Boys

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Every since 1993’s Very, critics have always been looking for, or touting, a “return to form” for Pet Shop Boys. Indeed it’s a process that every long-standing act eventually faces. What makes this even more strange for Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe is that they’ve never really made a terrible album and you certainly never get the feeling that they are about to start now. But whilst it may be a cliché to say it, there is little doubt in my mind that Yes, their 10th Studio Album, is indeed a return to form. With the help of the wonderful Xenomania, PSB have, largely, gone back to what they do best – catchy, pithy and warm pop music that gets your feet tapping and your brain thinking.

The opening track Love Etc, despite a certain reader of this page’s feelings, is up there with any single they’ve done since Can You Forgive Her and it’s by no means the only cracker on the album.

All Over The World lyrically apes the Behaviour classic The End Of The World but wraps it up with a touch of Tchaikovsky whilst Beautiful People drags in the strings arranger from the Last Shadow Puppets to great effect. Building A Wall is the most Fundamental-esque track lyrically (thankfully this time around the politics are kept down to a minimum as a whole) and is another delightful entry into the Chris Lowe “singing” canon, More Than A Dream is a slice of effortless pop that would fit very nicely on Very (still my favourite PSB album) and, perhaps best of all, Pandemonium mixes lyrics inspired by Kate Moss and Pete(r) Doherty, Harmonica provided by Johnny Marr and a souped up version of the Doctor Who theme to provide four of the most joyous minutes of pop you’ll hear all year.

Ok, so it’s not a perfect album; the boys can’t resist more “experiments” but at least Legacy, which ends the album on somewhat of a mediocre note, isn’t the dog that the likes of Boy Strange or Love Is A Catastrophe were on Nightlife and Release respectively.

All in all the “back to basics” approach and the reinvigorating effect of Xenomania have resulted in the Pet Shop Boys finest album in a decade. And if I’m being honest, that’s more than enough to keep me happy.

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