The new Pet Shop Boys album ‘Electric’ is really good, let’s all try and make it Number 1 please

If you didn’t know, the Pet Shop Boys new album ‘Electric’ is out this week. Its being hailed as their big comeback, despite their last album only coming out ten months ago. That’s because last year’s ‘Elysium’ was chilled, reflective and… a little bit boring to be honest. ‘Electric’ is the Boys returns to the dancefloor, and the true sequel to 2009’s FANTASTIC Xenomania produced (the guys behind Sugababes, Gabriella Cilmi and the Almighty Aloud‘s biggest hits to name a few) album ‘Yes’. But not only that, it feels like the album PSB should be making and in fact… the album Daft Punk should have made this year with ‘Random Access Memories’.

This is absolutely amazing, why is this not played everywhere?!?

Don’t get me wrong this album is clearly the work of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (y’know, the Pet Shop Boys) and producer Stuart Price (The Killers, Kylie, Take That, Madonna). But it’s got the interesting electronic twists and turns that people who know Daft Punk pre-‘Get Lucky’ are used to. ‘Axis’, linked above, is a kitchen sink affair, and could easily be the work of Godfather of Electronic Music Giorgio Moroder, whilst ‘Shouting In The Evening’ is insane in a ‘Skins party sequence/keep the dubstep kids happy’ way whilst still sampling Lionel Richie. 

Elsewhere, ”Vocal’ is a full on raveathon with lyrics about being in a club and getting lost in the music and ‘Thursday‘ is an ode to starting the weekend early, featuring ‘What We Made’ hitmaker Example. Of the 9 tracks here, 7 are instantly gratifying, with only ‘Inside a Dream’ and Bruce Springsteen cover ‘Last to Die’ being overshadowed by the amazingness of everything else on my first dozen or so listens. But the Boys are (usually) clever with writing tracks that take just that little bit longer to reveal their brilliance, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

And now we come to my highlight of the album; a song with possible the most Pet Shop Boy-ish title of all time – ‘Love is a Bourgeois Construct’. An italo-disco affair that hits the sweet spot on first listen, where we find Neil is disillusioned with love, believing it only exists in books and whatnot. Its all very tongue-n-cheek and bounces along giddily, occasionally blasting off into some computery vocal effects (but tastefully done).  There’s even some classic ‘Go West’ male choirs thrown in for good measure. Listen and love:

Yeah, its that good I put it up there twice.

Now here’s the thing: the album is currently sitting at Number 2 on the album charts. This is great, because although ‘older’ bands like Black Sabbath have done great in the album charts this year, and a lot of old stuff is coming back into fashion, the Pet Shop Boys are seen by people of my age and pretty ridiculously ‘uncool’ (maybe its coolness, not love that is a bourgeois construct). The person keeping them from Number One is… this dude.

I mean, REALLY?!?

‘Blurred Lines’ (the song) has been Number 1 for 4 weeks, before getting knocked off by Icona Pop‘s amazing ‘I Love It (feat. Charlie XCX) and then climbing up to the top spot again last week. Well done everyone. I’m not being funny but whilst the song has a really catchy production, the song is dreadful and like the video, it’s a little bit… rapey.

Maybe since turning 21 I’ve actually become 40 but I find #BLURREDLINES (grrrr) crass and… pretty trashy. And off the back of that, this guy is going to have a Number 1 album over British music legends, with a career spanning 25+ years and legendary songs like ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s A Sin’ , ‘Suburbia’,’Always On My Mind’ and I could go on but you get the point. So I’m begging of you please, music buying public of Great Britain; put aside your ideas of Pet Shop Boys being too old, boring, posh or… gay and go buy a very good electronic/dance album and enjoy it for what it is. Which is pretty spectacular.

Also, I got my first ever vinyl yesterday:

Iconic.

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Me Top 5 Singles Of 2013 So Far

We’re about halfway through the year, the sun is absolutely shining and here in Wales this rarity is something we should treasure and make the most of. We are country so often shrouded in darkness and what feels like eternal rain that we should take what chances we get to bask in the golden rays of happiness.

So here I am inside writing up a pointless list of 5 songs I really like.

The rules: its Singles of 2013 list so naturally, they’ve got to have been released individually since January 1st 2013. Its getting more difficult to tell what a ‘real’ pop single is because of buzz tracks, artists bopping a song on iTunes for the lulz, music videos but no individual song release, CD or not, mixed up release dates etc etc. I’ve decide to discount ‘Racer‘ by Giorgio Moroder since its more a song from a game/Google Chrome app freebie and I’ve talked about its instant sweet-spot hitting at length. A very close sixth goes to Little Mix and ‘How Ya Doin’?‘, even though it was on their 2012 album, the single was re-swizzled enough with extra chorus bits and a Missy freakin’ Elliott guest spot – but it wasn’t as good as the other five.

Let’s crack on eh?

FIVE

Gentleman

I’ve already waxed lyrical about this one too so I won’t go on about how it reminds me of the Almighty Aloud, brings some much-needed tongue in cheek to band in need of personality, isn’t caked in Auto-Tune or featuring Sean Paul, was the best performance of their Radio 1’s Big Weekend slot which suffered from awkward dance moves, mic issues and not great singing , follows the rule of amazing second single from an album (not counting ‘30 Days’) and has an insanely catchy rap middle eight.

To be honest, it would’ve cracked the top 5 just for the line “Cause most guys just hit it and quit it/and then they wonder why most girls just spit it”

FOUR:

Get Lucky

The one everyone knows about. After four weeks at number one its finally been dethroned. Four weeks at number one and its still not got a proper full music video yet. More importantly, after four weeks at number one it still sounds pretty fresh and not getting on my nerves yet. I’ve given the album a bit of (but not nearly enough time) and its a definite grower, but worth picking up for ‘Giorgio By Moroder’: the best musical monologue about music since… well last year’s ‘Over The Border’ by Saint Etienne.

THREE:

Axis

A divisive one amongst their fanbase (isn’t everything they do nowadays though? :/). For a band whose first hit opens with the lines “Sometimes your better off dead/There’s a gun in your hand and its pointing at your head” and whose lyrics are often so ambiguous people still debate the meaning years after I can see why some people are disappointed. The only lyrics to ‘Axis’ are things like”turn it up”, and “feel the power”. And that’s absolutely fine. Some days (most days) I want to listen to PSB songs that could be about love or a terrorist suicide bomber depending on how you look it at, but some days (also most days) I want to listen to a straightforward, insanely catchy club banger. David Guettawill.i.am and co. can are clogging up the charts, radios and dancefloors but in some parallel world where everything is at it should be; me and my Uni friends would be necking Jagerbombs in a club screaming “ELECTRIC EN.ER.GY., ELECTRIC EN.ER.GY.” at the top of our lungs, rather than me pretending to tolerate “Feel This Moment”. 

TWO:

Live a Little

Three exact minutes of pure joy.

That’s all I really need to say about this one but I like to ramble on. This song is written for some sort of SONY Headphones advert campaign thing – I’m not really sure. All I know is it sounds great with my SONY Headphones (not the ones involved in this campaign, a pair I picked up a year ago in Tesco for a tenner) so I guess this proves great music is great music no matter where it comes from? It is a fact of life great music comes from Florrie and Xenomania, who will surely make up for the whole Amelia Lily disappointment when she releases her major-label debut album.

Clearly Florrie is some sort of heaven-sent angel, with her beautiful voice and gorgeous looks, who has blessed us with three EPs of incredible music completely FREEEEE!!! She also gave us Shot You Down, which is just ‘OK’,  but we can forgive her for that one. She is performing live music for us mere mortals in London on the 25th of June – the EXACT DAY I’M OFF TO TURKEY! Whilst I cannot wait to Live (a Little) up in the sun, I’ll only be ticking skinny dipping off my Bucket List this June, and not ‘Raving like a lunatic to Call of the Wild in front of its (most likely slightly disturbed) performer’.

ONE:

Take A Look

Club thumpers with female vocalists featuring on them usually make me sigh. “A sample of a good song with an annoying Eurodance beat, terrible lyrics about putting your hands up, probably a guest rapper who’s bit is so phoned-in its literally recorded off the answering machine and vocals more processed than cheap hot dogs” I whine to anyone who wants to (or realistic, doesn’t) listen. But then, like a superhero, comes Norwegian Popstar Annie (as I have to call her, because people think I’m on about the musical ¬¬) to rescue me. Teaming up with fellow Norway folk Ralph Myerz, they have created something so wonderful that I think Scandinavians should be put in charge of Earth.  The production is an icy disco throb for the verses, coupled with Annie’s mysterious, sexy voice floating on top before it all lifts off for a euphoric chorus. She cheekily teases “take off your clothes, now come and have a swim with me” and later even thrown in a reference to a song she co-wrote ‘Left My Heart In Tokyo’ performed by the gone-but-never-forgotten Mini Viva. Excellent stuff.

There’s nothing different or quirky about the structure, genre or anything really. It’s a straightforward dance-pop song. The quirkiness is left to Annie’s solo comeback single ‘Tubestops & Lonely Hearts’ which is pretty darn good, but I can’t help but think of the low-budget awkward video whenever I hear it. Sadly you cannot take a look (pun!) at the music video for this song, because its not out yet. Annie promised on Facebook it would be out in June but I cannot wait until then to do this countdown. I’m hoping its epic, obviously but for me, ‘Take a Look at the World’ is so good the video could be someone chopping their toenails and it wouldn’t detract.

Though in all seriousness Annie, please don’t ever make that into a video.

Well, that’s my top 5 of the year so far. If you would like to enquire as to who these artists are and which other songs of their you should check out, or why ‘Scream & Shout’ wasn’t featured then please leave me a comment or get in touch.

Amazing New Song Alert! ‘Racer’ by Giorgio Moroder

Giorgio Moroder is a pretty big deal. He is practically the godfather of synthesized music, producing Donna Summer’s classic ‘I Feel Love’ all the way back in ’77 (the year of A New Hope. What a great year!) and kickstarted the use of of all electronic instruments in everyone’s favourite genre – disco. Modern music owes so much to disco, and Moroder – techno, house and the current Eurodance EDM craze all have these 70s influences all over them. You could even say ‘dance music’ is just a way of repackaging disco after America decided to wipe it from its history, along with racism and the fact the country was built off immigration.

I’m digressing (into possible controversy), the point is that this genius is making something of a comeback. He features on the new Daft Punk album – apparently the most pre-ordered in UK history, in a song called ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ which is a monologue set to his life set to amazing music. I assume, although the whole thing is streaming legally online I’m saving myself until its out properly. But this is more than keeping me entertained.

The song is called ‘Racer’, for a Google Chrome game of the same name. It’s a free download if you have a Google account and some music app software I deleted right away after download. Its a full on electronic assault affair, building on a funky beat with sparse, possibly French vocals, occasionally dropping to a twinkly piano melody before coming back up for you to game – or dance to.

There’s not really much else to say about it; its simple but layered and progressive, totally throwaway but utterly addictive. Give it a spin.

(Get it, spin like a record, but also like wheels on a car – coz its a racing game. Oh I give up)