Twelve albums in, Pet Shop Boys have still managed to find new ways to innovate the sound of music. The more melancholic tone of their previous album, Elysium, is in sharp contrast to the dance-laden beats of Electric. Produced entirely by Stuart Price (known for his work on Confessions on a Dance Floor), the motif of Electric is decidedly feel good. Thus, in a time when things continue to seem hopeless and destitute (save for the impending birth of the Royal baby, I suppose), one can always rely on Pet Shop Boys to melt your cares away.
“Axis,” the ethereal opening track wastes no time in establishing both Stuart Price’s and the Pet Shop Boys’ unbridled penchant for creating the perfect blend of dance pop music. “Bolshy” favors a visceral, frenetic beat as Tennant croons, “There you are, pretending you’re lonely/I don’t believe you, don’t know you could own me.” Once again proving that Pet Shop Boys can mix pleasurable beats with lyrics of profundity, the next track, “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct,” begins with symphonic notes that lead into a fanciful musical arrangement that affirms, “Love is a bourgeois construct, so I’ve given up the bourgeoisie.”
The following track, “Fluorescent,” gives you the sweaty dance floor vibe you would expect from Les Rythmes Digitales. Perfect for a night of debauchery, this is easily single material–especially in Europe. Painting a portrait as only Tennant can, he sings, “You’ve been living in a looking glass scene/Since you were seventeen…/Brighter and brighter you burn/When you’re in this mood, there’s no return.” Continuing the theme of the surreal, “Inside A Dream” begins serenely enough, segueing into a Danceteria-friendly sound. One of the most addictive songs on Electric, it echoes the feel of a Duran Duran-Les Rythmes Digitales mash-up.
The sardonically titled “The Last to Die” (perhaps a subconscious nod to their own consistent return to the music world regardless of age)–a Bruce Springsteen cover–fits in quite nicely with the rest of their canon of work; in fact, one might never be able to guess Springsteen was the one to have originally sung it. “Shouting in the Evening” is the boldest track on the album in terms of experimentation. Taking their sound to a more German industrial level, Tennant’s voice is manipulated to sound more robotic and scrambled. “Thursday” featuring Example slows down the tempo to a more laidback tone, with lyrics that mimic the nature of “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” off of Please. Lowe lends the stoic backing vocals of “Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday” in a similar intonation as “What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?”
“Vocal,” the second single from the album, expresses a jubilance and desire to express oneself. Tennant assures, “Anything I wanna say out loud will be sung” as a 90s-esque dance background plays. It is the ideal point on which to end Electric, keeping it short and sweet–just the way they used to on classic albums of the 80s. And so, the old adage, “Quality, not quantity” is once again proven.