“Everything about tonight feels right and so young,” sings 58-year-old Neil Tennant on Vocal. “And everything I want to say out loud will be sung.” As his thin yet perennially yearning voice lingers, 53-year-old Chris Lowe’s synths throb and rush, breaking over the relentless beat in big Balearic waves of ecstasy. It is a perfect encapsulation of the communal, near spiritual rapture of great dance music, wrapped up in a blissed-out, fist-pumping techno anthem. For a couple of late-middle-aged men on their 12th album in nearly 30 years, the Pet Shop Boys sound like they are having a really good time.
Just last year, on Elysium, their last album with major label Parlophone, the long-serving electropop duo sounded adrift and even a little bitter, with an over-smooth American disco production and songs about their fading appeal. Maybe they were saving all the good stuff for their own new label, X2. Electric has a spring in its dance steps, marrying the single-mindedness and bright beats of club culture with their own characteristic melodiousness, finely attuned sense of song structure and slightly detached air of being both in the song and above it.
The Pet Shop Boys have always treated trashy pop as a form of art. Tennant’s strongest lyrics manage a difficult blend of ironic awareness and complete engagement, enabling songs to release genuine emotion in satirical situations. Electric is an album of neatly observed tracks about nightlife; a tableau of unrequited desire, impossible love and inevitable heartbreak, that sounds like just the kind of thing to dance away your troubles to.
It must be odd being electropop veterans who have seen the future take shape in their own image. Their vintage synths have a kind of brash colourfulness and melodic emphasis that separates them from the aggressively disjointed attack of the boldest new beats, yet the 21st-century Pet Shop Boys still sound decidedly modern. Producer Stuart Price (Madonna, The Killers) is a very good fit, balancing textures and colours while maintaining constant underlying movement. Fluorescent is weird and mesmeric, awash with shimmering sound effects and pulsing on an orgasmic vocal gasp, while a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s The Last to Die is typically mischievous, turning the rock icon’s post-Iraq belter into a sleek pop anthem about domestic dysfunction. An instant standout is Thursday, which has all the hallmarks of an Eighties classic given a contemporary edge by the perfectly pitched interjections of British rapper Example.-The Telegraph

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