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PET SHOP BOYS - Fundamental   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 08 May 2006

"Two fiftysomething millionaires continue to make excellent, wry and dated stadium disco."


The Pet Shop Boys doggedly refuse to appear on any retrospective programmes, any “I LOVE THE EIGHTIES” series, anything that could possibly make them appear in any way a nostalgia act, anything that could any way see them on the comeback trail, anything that could be interpreted as the act of a group that’s riding a tide of Nostalgia For An Age That Never Existed.


Despite this, one can’t help but feel nostalgic for what the Pet Shop Boys once were : a vital and intelligent pop force that straddled art, disco, and pointy hats like a collosus. “Fundamental” follows a template established by the band a decade ago : a curious mix of disco pop with guitars and slight vocals, made of a few brilliant songs, a few so-so ones, and one or two forgetable stinkers.


No doubt critics will hail this as a “return to form”, in the same way that they do every time almost every band releases an album. Make no mistakes : this is no return to form, for firstly the band never ‘Lost’ it, and secondly, they’ve been making albums this consistently good – or bad – for over a decade. It is Just Another Pet Shop Boys album. You know what the band sound like, and what their albums are – this will neither gain nor lose fans, neither sell dreadfully or amazingly. It’ll sell a respectable amount to thirty and forty somethings, the band will make arch and intruiging television appearances and endlessly readable interviews. Singles will come with remixes by upcoming DJ’s that nobody outside of Hoxton has ever heard of, and gigs will still end with a euphoric encore of “Go West”.


Nothing ever changes. No wheels get reinvented. Two fiftysomething millionaires will continue to make excellent, wry and dated stadium disco and weave political lyrics and anodyne gay love songs into a uniform tapestry that is practically indistinguishable from any of their recent albums.


Single “I’m With Stupid” and the wonderfully titled but underperforming “The Sodom And Gomorrah Show” - which sounds oddly like "Yesterday When I Was Mad" are highlights. And "Integral" is probably the best PSB song in this millenia. Half beathappy intelligent disco, half anodyne love songs...


The featureless “Numb” and the PSB-by-numbers of “I Made My Excuses And Left” manage to derail any momentum of the album. Frustratingly paced and sequenced, and with songs of varying and uneven quality, “Fundamental” is a Pet Shop Boys album that promises much, occasionally fulfills, but overall often fails to deliver.





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