The Washington Post

Pet Shop Boys album review: ‘Electric’

British pop band Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Francis performs on stage during their concert at the Ergo Arena Hall in Gdansk, Poland, Sept. 4, 2013. (Adam Warzawa/EPA)

Kindred spirits: Eurythmics, Erasure, Saint Etienne

Show: Thursday at the Music Center at Strathmore. Show starts at 8 p.m. 301-581-5100. $55-75.

French duo Daft Punk has ruled the U.S. pop charts this summer with its hard-to-resist mix of pop hooks and electronic dance music. The twosome’s original role models, English duo the Pet Shop Boys, have been enjoying a more modest success with the same formula on their new album, “Electric,” even though the music is more consistent and their lyrics more sharply honed. By working with former Madonna producer Stuart Price, the Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe) have tilted their ratio of pop to EDM to favor the dance floor, creating an album where the microchip beats never stop and the sly commentary and chord changes have to slip in around the pounding 4/4.

The collection’s current single, “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct,” is not only a critique of the middle-class commodification of romance, but also a mocking of left-wing hipsters who might use such a critique to camouflage their own broken hearts. But even if you don’t catch that clever ambiguity, you may well get swept away by the thumping disco beat, the synths blaring like an R&B horn section, the rubbery synth-bass bottom and the singalong chorus.

The album’s previous single was “Vocal,” which seems to have been sung by a tongue-tied 14-year-old EDM fan trying to explain why he likes dance tracks (“expressing passion, explaining pain”). If Tennant’s lyrics evoke a young fan’s love of dance music, Lowe’s juicy synth riffs are a perfect example of what made that fan fall in love in the first place.

Geoffrey Himes


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