Ending with the chorus “this is our last chance for goodbye,” 2012’s underwhelming Elysium hinted that Pet Shop Boys were about to abdicate their throne as the kings of knowing synth-pop. Yet less than 12 months on and the duo have returned with arguably the most vibrant and effervescent record of their 30-year career. Produced by Stuart Price, who oversaw a similar rejuvenation with Madonna’s Confessions on a Dancefloor, Electric may be overloaded with four-to-the-floor beats and hedonistic riffs. But with nods to William Blake, a dissection of a failed upper-class marriage and a cover of a Springsteen anti-war song, its nine tracks prove that it’s possible to have fun-in-the-club without eradicating every brain cell. Here’s a look at five of its best lyrics.
Featuring arguably the most PSB-esque title of all time, this bitter tale of bourgeois woe sees a jilted husband turn all philosophical by claiming that the concept of love has been conjured up solely to perpetuate the privileged. His subsequent rejection of all things upper class, which is slightly undermined by the track’s sample of a 1691 opera, appears to consist of little more than reading Das Kapital and drinking tea in the manner of an 88-year-old viscount: [LISTEN]
Inspired by a statement made by John Kerry during his 1971 Vietnam War testimony, the driving heartland rock of Bruce Springsteen’s “Last To Die” joins the likes of Elvis’ “Always On My Mind” and U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name” on the list of songs that somehow sound like they were always meant to be covered by PSB. Indeed, it’s to the duo’s credit that they manage to stamp their HI-NRG personality all over the Magic album track without ever taking anything away from The Boss’ original howl on the futility of war: [LISTEN]
An affectionate tribute to the era of smiley faces and glow sticks, Tennant finds the time to remark on the novelty of hearing a warehouse anthem with an actual vocal before losing himself in the shared dance-floor experience altogether on the album’s biggest ‘hands in the air’ moment. Given their previous dalliances with late 80s rave culture, the ‘lonely and strange’ singer in question could possibly be another classic case of PSB self-effacement: [LISTEN]
No stranger to diatribes against celebrity culture, the warped analogue electro of “Fluorescent” is slightly more forgiving than the pretention-mocking “Ego Music.” Indeed, there’s even a display of begrudging admiration here for those fame-hungry stars who still manage to light up a room despite a discernible lack of talent. However, with its ‘those who burn twice as bright burn half as long’ sentiment, this is still very much a warning as to how quickly the gossip magazine bubble can burst: [LISTEN]
Hoping that the slightly robotic tones of his Russian wingwoman will help him in his shameless quest, this playful Italo-funk number sees Tennant slide up to a poor unsuspecting man who has caught his eye and virtually command him to act as equally interested, suggesting that the ‘bolshy’ title he repeatedly toys with is more likely to be a celebration of over-assertion than a reference to the group of early 20th Century radical communists: [LISTEN]