It’s ridiculous how a band who’ve been going for so long can continue to astonish with new material every time it is released. Pet Shop Boys who’ve been plying their trade at the top of the charts since 1984 have in 2016 got another smash hit album on their hands.

We have been teased in the lead up to its release with the immediately catchy single ‘The Pop Kids’, the trance sound of ‘Inner Sanctum’ and then just before its release date we were treated to ‘Happiness’ an instant dance floor disco classic.

Let’s start right at the beginning with the above mentioned ‘Happiness’, a rousing anthem to start the album, the beat is straight from the early 90’s night club scene and then Neil Tennants vocals begin with a country twist. I played this song at a disco recently (yes I’m a DJ too) and it fits nicely between some line dance classics such as Cotton Eye Joe and 5,6,7,8 or smoothly moves the disco between that type of hoe down music into classic rave/house music. With the right AirPlay, this will be played at discos for years to come.

We move next into the pop kids and as I’ve reviewed this already (search Blazing Minds Pet Shop Boys to find it) I won’t be going over old ground here. Next up is ‘Twenty-Something’ and I absolutely love this, the hook is amazing and the tune is something that enters your brain and sticks there for dear life! It’s a song that’ll stick in your head, trust me.

‘Groovy’ comes up next, another dance tune but with more of Neil’s vocals. ‘Groovy’ has a strange feel to it, mainly because it has a typical Pet Shop Boys sound yet weirdly it sounds nothing like them. I know, a bit of a contradiction but listen to it and you’ll understand what I mean.

Next up we come to ‘The Dictator Decides’ one of a few typical PSB songs on the album. Great lyrics, if a little bit preachy in parts, but that’s why they are so unique, never scared of writing songs that are different and sometimes satirical. Looking around the forums online this seems to be a favourite among existing fans.

‘Pazzo’ is completely different to anything else on the album, an instrumental solid dance track that disappointingly only lasts for 2 minutes and 44 seconds. It kind of feels like there should be more, but it certainly gets the feet taping.

‘Inner Sanctum’ is another track that we were teased with prior to the albums release. Obviously written for the night clubs it leads with an ongoing beat but lacks melody until about half way through the song. It sounds good loud but listening on an iPod wouldn’t give you the full effect. It is perhaps my only real legitimate complaint on this otherwise brilliant album.

Now comes the wow moment, ‘Undertow’ a track that has everything, dance beats, great melody, amazing lyrics and that unmistakable Neil Tennant vocal arrangement. ‘Undertow’ is a song I would predict as a single release, it can’t fail to please new and old fans alike. A song that unlike ‘Inner Sanctum’ can be appreciated both loud and in quieter moments.

Melancholy music up next in the slow album track ‘Sad Robot World’, a song reminiscent of the sublime ‘King of Rome’ from the ‘Yes’ album. Lyrics again taking centre stage with talk of the way in which modern life is changing. Satirical yet real, this song is another nailed on classic.

‘Say it to Me’ is essentially a typical PSB track, probably closest mostly to the material on the album ‘Nightlife’. It has a catchy chorus which has been the trademark for the group for 32 years. The only way to distinguish this tune from older tracks is the early 90’s influence that engulfs this album.

The penultimate track on ‘Super’ is ‘Burn’ and wow what a track, “We’re gonna burn this disco down” sings Tennant as the infectious dance melody blasts out from the speakers. If ever there was a tune that is instantly likeable, whoever you are, this is it. Everyone I have played ‘Burn’ to, their eyes light up and the phrase “ooo I like this one” is muttered almost instantly. A great time and my favourite on this album by a country mile, well maybe not by a country mile in truth when I consider ‘Happiness’ and ‘Twenty-Something’, oh well, I’m allowed more than one favourite aren’t I?

Finally we come to ‘Into Thin Air’, unfortunately I don’t really like this one much, it’s perhaps one of the weaker Pet Shop Boys songs for a while but maybe it’ll grow on me. It does have a decent melody but just seems a tad empty following on from such brilliance elsewhere on the album.

Overall an awesome album yet again from the most successful male duo of all time. Arguably one of the albums of the year (I know we are early into 2016 but I can’t see this being beaten). It’s already reached number one in charts around the world and is hovering in the UK top 5 iTunes chart too. Pet Shop Boys have done it again and reinvented their sound for a 13th time. I love it.

Phil Woods

Phil Woods

Writer
Comedy writer with Steve Smith. Author of the book & Satire Website, 'The Daily Skid - The best bits' also Beat About the Bush with @GiftedDuck