Michael Jackson- the king of pop? Pah – he’s not even fit to be the serf of pop. And anyway, here at PopJunkie, we much prefer queens of pop – namely Dusty, Kylie, Liza Minnelli and ,err, the duo that links all of ’em – Pet Shop Boys (PSB), who are just about to release their tenth studio album Yes, which we’re saying is their best since 1990’s Behaviour, itself one of the finest records of that decade.
No-one does intelligent pop better than the Pet Shop Boys, and Yes is their poppiest album since 1993’s Very. In fact, Yes is, ahem, very Pet Shop Boys. Never mind Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat, on the anthemic future single All Over The World, they actually (see what I’ve done there) mix rave bleeps with a Tchaikovsky sample. Very Pet Shop Boys, indeed, but then that’s the essence of PSB isn’t it? When Neil Tennant’s clever, cultured approach collides with Chris Lowe’s love of the dancefloor, it creates the wittiest pop songs since The Smiths. The Queen is Dead meets queens of pop, if you like.
Which brings us neatly to Johnny Marr, who famously years ago described himself as, ‘the Carlos Alomar of the Pet Shop Boys’. He crops up playing guitar and harmonica on several tunes from Yes – we’re loving the ‘60s psyche-pop of Beautiful People (Mamas and Papas doing the theme from Midnight Cowboy, anyone?), the jangly riff on Did You See Me Coming?, which must (J Arthur) rank alongside Love Comes Quickly and So Hard as one of the best PSB innuendoes yet, and the HI-NRG sure-fire hit Pandemonium – originally written for Kylie and based on Kate Moss and Pete Doherty’s stormy affair, it’s the perfect mix of PSB, Stock, Aitken & Waterman and Motown.
Bolstering the PSB’s indie credibility is Owen Pallet, string arranger for Arcade Fire and Last Shadow Puppets, who works his orchestral magic on Beautiful People and the epic Legacy – a grandiose closer that was inspired by Tony Blair’s departure and features techno noodlings and a bizarre rant about a Carphone Warehouse salesman. Dare I say it, once again, it’s very PSB.
The commercial, chart-friendly sound of Yes isn’t surprising, considering it was produced by Girls Aloud hit maker Brian Higgins/Xenomania, who also co-wrote three of the songs. PSB meets Girls Aloud? Ooh, it’s like The Sound of The Underground – the London Underground. That’ll be West End Girls Aloud, then.
Preview of Pet Shop Boys new album here
New single Love Etc