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Drinking Tea Like Tony Benn: The Pet Shop Boys Today

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I can’t quite accept the fact that the Pet Shop Boys have been around for more than three decades.  Surely “West End Girls” was a hit only a couple years ago?  Well, no – more like a couple dozen years.

So the bad news is that I really am getting old (and forgetful).  The good news is, if you ever liked the Boys, you needn’t buy their new album as a grim duty, just because you’re a loyal fan of those bands you once loved (I’m speaking of myself, of course).  You do, however, need to buy their new album, Electric, because it is just so damned good.

Inexhaustible Melodies, Incomparable Lyrics

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are not Lennon and McCartney; they’re not Jagger and Richards; and they’re not Strummer and Jones.  Well, who is, except those six guys?  But they constitute one of the great pop-songwriting duos.  Through their career, they have put out album after album full of songs that dig their hooks into your head, songs whose lyrics you somehow find you’ve memorized without even trying.  That phenomenon continues with Electric.  I adduce as my main example the sublime “Love is a Bourgeois Construct.”

Who Are They Now, The Style Council?

Right – don’t you think Paul Weller wishes he’d thought of that song title?  But he didn’t, nor could he (and I say this as a huge fan of Weller’s lyrics) have spun that title into such a brilliantly witty tale of politics and, mostly, love.  I don’t think I can even begin to do justice to this song with a description; check out the video below (which helpfully features the song’s lyrics), and you’ll see why I’m gushing about this song and the album it appears on.  (If you needed another, if quirky, reason to admire the song, I will add that it is based on a melody by sixteenth-century pop-star composer Henry Purcell – and you can hear that provenance now that you know about it.)

The Rest

This is a stellar collection of songs, and Tennant and Lowe somehow make it all sound effortless.  They create absolutely first-rate pop music that demands attention and repays attention with delight.  This is their twelfth studio album, and it’s as good as anything they’ve done in their career.  If you know only their hits, this album would be as good a place as any to start an exploration of that career.  About how many bands three decades into their working lives can we say that?

GW

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