Pet Shop Boys

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Super Review

by David Jeffries

Coming almost three years after their excellent, unexpected, and infectious LP Electric, 2016's Super is the second album where the Pet Shop Boys call themselves "electronic purists," holing up in the studio with returning producer Stuart Price and a mess of PCs, drum machines, and synths. The musical landscape is the same and still, it's not a sequel or a very proper follow-up. It feels confident, loose, and free like a swaggering epilogue, like the smaller Quantum of Solace following the epic Casino Royale. At first, everything is in its place, as nostalgic single "The Pop Kids" acts as this album's "Being Boring" with alluring house music and quintessential PSB lyrics ("I studied History while you did biology/To you the human body didn't hold any mystery"). "The Dictator Decides" is this album's "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously" with focus shifted to the 2016 political landscape ("My facts are invented, I sound quite demented"). A healthy dose of classic spite fuels "Twenty-Something" as electro bachata makes the song's Oscar Wilde outlook and Dorothy Parker attitude sound cool rather than curmudgeon. Borrow some riffs from Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" and Moby's "Go" while giving the style-less EDM kids a kick during the great "Inner Sanctum" and this sounds like Electric once again, but Super ventures into B-side territory with the brilliant instrumental "Pazzo!" along with most of the album's spirited and sprawling second half. Still, PSB B-sides are larks and experiments of the highest order, so while Super scores as high as the crossover-ish Electric, it's built more for the fan who puts "Paninaro" at the top of their list, well ahead of "West End Girls."

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