This is an album of shameless party-starting fun and a return to form for a group whose material has been patchy in recent years. If you’re a Pet Shop Boys fan, make sure you add this one to your collection.

Electric is Pet Shop Boys’ 12th studio album, but a milestone for the pioneering dance-pop duo: it’s their first album released independently through their label, x2. I’ve been obsessed with Pet Shop Boys since the age of three when I heard the Chipmunks cover ‘Always On My Mind’, but before you let that factoid lead to the false assumption that I’ll automatically give this album a positive review, let me assure you it’s not the case – if anything, my obsession with the band’s back catalogue has left me highly critical of their more recent efforts.

 

With that in mind, when I got my copy of Electric, I was hopeful but truthfully unsure of what to expect. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised. Filled with trademark catchy melodies and infectious beats, this is hands down their best work since their late ’80s/’90s heyday.

 

The album kicks off with the lead single, ‘Axis’, a largely instrumental synth-heavy tune that starts subtle, but layers to a climatic all-out dance spectacular. Tracks like ‘Fluorescent’and the closing ‘Vocal’ (a personal favourite) reference ’90s techno and electronica while incorporating slick contemporary production for a polished, yet retro vibe. ‘Love Is A Bourgeois Construct’, ‘Inside A Dream’ and ‘Thursday’ also feel like familiar nods to the ’90s, this time referencing Pet Shop Boys’ pop ballads from that era (in the vein of the singles off Very). The duo has also looked to contemporary influences, covering Bruce Springsteen’s 2007 track ‘Last To Die’ so convincingly you’d swear it was a Pet Shop Boys original.

 

Another highlight to listen out for is the electro-house influenced ‘Shouting In The Evenings’, featuring a grinding bass and pounding beat that wouldn’t feel out of place at a dubstep club.

 

3.5/5 stars

 

BY MARISA LUGOSI

 

Electric is out now through x2.

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