Released in the U.K. on March 23, The Pet Shop Boys' latest studio album, Yes, became available on U.S. iTunes and the one Virgin Megastore still left in L.A. on April 21. Based on the U.S. sales of their last album, Fundamental, which placed, at its highest, at number 150 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, the numbers aren't looking that stellar for Yes. Not that Billboard is really a measure of how good music can be, but still, 150 is a long way away from the number 7 slot their debut album, Please, reached in 1986. The eleven tracks on Yes are nonetheless just as formidable as The Pet Shop Boys' previous work.

The Pet Shop Boys

"Love, Etc.," the first track and single from Yes, can be likened to some of their most infectious dance tracks (i.e. "West End Girls," "It's A Sin," and "Heart"). The lyrics are even a bit more thought-provoking than their usual refrains ("You've got a problem with the reasons why/an isometric haircut and a painted eye" comes to mind). The upbeat music and message of "Love, Etc." is almost tailor-made for the current sentiment of glumness in the fallen materialist countries of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pet Shop Boys: West End Girls

The Pet Shop Boys, unlike many of their compatriots who rose to fame in the eighties (Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and The Cure), are not apologetic about maintaining the same sound and lyrical content in their music. They may be the last of the old school who adhere to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. And why should they alter a sound that has consistently delighted their fans over the past three decades? 

At the Hollywood Bowl, circa 2006

From start to finish, Yes is a perfect blending of the talents of Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant. Chris Lowe, often considered the lesser of the two Pet Shop Boys due to his aura of stoicism, proves that he has an unlimited arsenal of beats, both for The Pet Shop Boys and other acts the band often remixes songs for. Neil Tennant's voice, as usual, is transcendent and entirely unique from the sound one hears on the radio. Some of the standout tracks include "Love, Etc.," "Vulnerable," "Building A Wall," "Pandemonium," and "Legacy." Though the album has a fair amount of balladry ("Beautiful People," "King of Rome," et. al.), it is generally the first musical gift of 2009 to clubland. This probably means it will only be heard in Europe, possibly Chelsea/Manhattan, and maybe, two years from now, West Hollywood.

AuthorSmoking Barrel
CategoriesMusic Reviews