Pet Shop Boys have come a long way since the ill-fated disco musical Closer to Heaven.
Despite being further from their comfort zone, this second foray into theatrical composition, a ballet based around a Hans Christian Anderson parable, is vastly more adept, involving the deft interweaving of electropop and orchestral elements within a series of impressionistic tableaux sketching out the theme of conflict between creativity and destruction. It's stylistically wide-ranging, with Arcade Fire-like uplifting fanfares and sweeping orchestrations, most impressive in the seven-minute sequence "The Grind", in which businesslike synth riffs blend with quirky woodwind and horns before building to an increasingly tense and agitated orchestral conclusion. It may not have quite as many great tunes as The Nutcracker or Swan Lake, but what does?
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