tue 16/07/2019

CD: Pet Shop Boys - Super | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Pet Shop Boys - Super

CD: Pet Shop Boys - Super

The Gilbert & George of British pop bring familiarity and – sadly - surprises

'Super': the deadpan duo of Tennant and Lowe change tack

The deadpan duo of Tennant and Lowe have never been easy to suss out at the best of times: maybe their way of layering wackiness on deep seriousness, eyebrow-flickering subtlety on roaring camp, giddy frivolity on erudition, has been their way of staying fresh. The Gilbert & George of British pop, they live to perplex even into middle age and beyond. But even given all that, quite what they're doing starting an album with “Happiness”, a hokey country and western hoedown mixed into the thumping EDM of modern American raves – sounding like Major Lazer going crazy on the chewin' tobacco – is quite a puzzler.

It's especially peculiar, given that the rest of the album is standard Pet Shop Boys through and through. “Twenty Something” finds their songwriting tidily skewering the mores of life under Conservative rule just as it was when they first began. “Undertow” and “Burn” are timeless poppers-scented peak-time club anthems, crying out for belting diva cover versions, while “Inner Sanctum” delivers late-nineties Ibiza trance leavened with Tennant melancholy. The state-of-the-modern-world “Sad Robot World” could be silly but the combination of dead-straight delivery and luscious orchestration renders it sublime – and the same goes tenfold for album highlight “The Dictator Decides”. For the rest, there's nothing terrible, though it feels quite arbitrarily constructed with a bit of filler.

Maybe they just like to wrongfoot people. Maybe they've essentially been a cult act for so long that they want to put off anyone who's not willing to make the commitment of listening to the whole album. Maybe they genuinely want to make a “Cotton Eye Joe” for the 21st century. Maybe an act who – the odd experimental side project and the occasional adoption of a new club trend apart – have essentially not changed their modus operandi for their entire career just want to do something wild and new. Who knows? Whatever, it's a very horrible start to an album that otherwise shows them just as they've been for a very long time: still capable of heartbreaking beauty among the layers of inscrutability.

Maybe an act who have essentially not changed their modus operandi for their entire career just want to do something wild and new

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Comments

Seems rather silly to be knocking off two stars in a review which basically says that this is a really good album, but for the opening song, which the Reviewer doesn't really like. If there are another 11 good songs, it seems a bit disproportionate.

Why do some people have such a hard time admitting that they love something. Great album, fresher than a coat of new paint, IMO. 

Sorry, but the reviewer is still too well-meaning. The album is BAD, BAD, BAD! I love the PSB to death, but SUPER is disappointing to say the least.

And yes, "Happiness" sucks!

Its a very good album.  In a time when most albums have about 3, 4 good songs and the rest is fair nonsense, PSB at least gives us a good 6 - 8 songs. They still sound new -- and that's saying something for 2 guys in their  50's who've been doing this for 30 years. Their music sounds better then most 20 somethings who make club/eletronic, who are of the culture. Somehow the Boys have kept their finger firmly on the pulse of dance music - and they are still 2 of its kings. 

Happiness is cheeky, fun, catchy, and current. It's a small miracle of bravey that two guys in their late whatevers have the lightness of heart to pull of something as fresh as this.  It's meant to be a little album opener, lighten up people! 

Sorry but Inner Sanctum isn't a Pet Shop Boy Song it's by Jam and Spoon called The Age of Love. Yes I too don't like Happiness it's like they have lost touch with their music which is sad 

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