Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental (EMI/Parlophone)

Along with Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys stand proud as survivors of 80s electro pop, yet despite their longevity and undoubted influence, they’ve never been given the same kudos as their guitar playing peers. The Boys were always ahead of their time; they were even ironic before Alanis Morissette, sorry I mean U2, made it trendy. During the middle section of their career they lost direction somewhat, but with last year’s impressive soundtrack for ‘Battleship Potemkin’, and now with ‘Fundamental’ they are definitely back on track. This album has Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe doing what they do best, creating great, fizzy, electro disco songs such as the recent single ‘I’m With Stupid’, which compares the Blair/Bush relationship to having an unsuitable boyfriend.

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Legendary producer Trevor Horn, who last worked with the PSB on ‘Left to My Own Devices’, has done his utmost to create a big, dramatic sound; the sweeping synths on ‘The Sodom And Gomorrah Show’ are gloriously theatrical whilst ‘I Made My Excuses And Left’ and ‘Numb’ (the latter written by Diane Warren) are full on orchestral numbers with melancholic themes of disappointments in love. Tennant’s lyrics are sharp and relevant – ‘Psychological’ for example explores paranoia and asymmetric haircuts, ‘Casanova’ is about the great lover’s impotence, while ‘Integral’ attacks ID cards. A definite return to form. JW (CMU)

Release date: 22 May

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