Electric – defiantly not, you notice, Electronic – is the Pet Shop Boys album which, of all their releases in recent years, feels least like an 1980s act refining what they’ve always done well, and most like an entity in forward motion.
Produced by Stuart Price (Les Rythmes Digitales/Madonna), it leans heavily on the excitement-heightening trick of synths revving up an octave and back down again like some great turbo-charged engine. But such trickery would be nothing without Tennant and Lowe’s songwriting mojo being at its peak. “Love is a Bourgeois Construct”, which namechecks Karl Marx and Tony Benn, is as great a tune as it is a title. “Fluorescent” revisits the familiar PSB theme of people living glittering but glass-fragile lives.
Oddly, the Springsteen cover “The Last to Die” is the most modern-sounding dancefloor-bait, while “Thursday”, featuring Example, feels like the least contemporary moment (electronic pop songs having a rap break is very 1991).
The grand finale, “Vocal”, eloquently expresses the effect that great pop has on the emotions while having, itself, that very same effect. Meta-pop doesn’t come much more moving than this.