Release Date: Apr 21, 2009
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Rock, Dance, Alternative
Co-produced with Girls Aloud's team Xenomania, the Pet Shop Boys' 10th album boasts a title that betrays its theme of positivity. Musically, All Over the World pits Tchaikovsky against rave bleeps, while Did You See Me Coming? features Johnny Marr. It sags mid-album, but the Brits won't demand a recount. .
When the economy finally kicks the last velvet-rope VIP down to the breadline, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe will remain in their hot tubs, counting their gold. Because no one writes better dance-pop odes to the Fallen Empire of the Feel-Good Class. The cool-throbbing ”Love Etc.” sharply skewers Gerhard Richter-collecting socialites, and the Spector-inflected ballad ”Beautiful People” is the perfect lullaby for the Blair Waldorf generation.
Coming down from the ambitious, politically charged Fundamental, Yes is the sound of the Pet Shop Boys unwinding and returning to their usual fascinations: isolation, fashion, grand arrangements, and witty synth pop anthems. Unfortunately, they're in a slump with their songwriting, and subject-wise, every song here has a companion piece on some earlier album, but that doesn't mean the party is spoiled. The delicate electro opener "Love Etc." is PSB perfection with its memorable hook and faultless construction.
Can you mark the moment your favorite band passed into irrelevancy? To support their 2002 album Release, Pet Shop Boys appeared live on American TV’s The Today Show Summer Concert Series. I happened to see that performance. It was sad. Not for the music itself. The couple selections from Release ….
PETA's recent attempt to goad 80s dance duo Pet Shop Boys into renaming themselves the, uh, Rescue Shelter Boys, has thankfully failed. Besides being, like, the stupidest, most indirect way to help animals I can possibly think of, PETA's ill-conceived PR stunt seems only to have reminded music fans and the media that the Boys' 10th offering has just gone on sale. [rssbreak] Don't expect any major changes to their 50-million-records-sold formula.
So identifiable are the Pet Shop Boys after 10 albums that they have become, to all intents and purposes, the synthpop Ramones. On the fast songs, Neil Tennant offers mildly sardonic observations about relationships, just as he always did, while on the slow ones Chris Lowe provides those polished-chrome synthesised string washes, just as he always did. The only point of difference on Yes is that those sounds were burnished by the Xenomania production team, who (after Saint Etienne and an unsuccesful stint with Franz Ferdinand) are making something of a sideline out of catering to established and strong-willed pop acts.
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe's interest in pop stardom would seemed to have rather waned over the Noughties, a decade in which they've drifted away from the mainstream to potter around with guitar albums (Release), soundtracks (Battleship Potemkin) and politics (Fundamental). This is perfectly reasonable: The Pet Shop Boys are very old. It befits them.
Some bands, as they age, turn into hacks, banging out songs that mean nothing to them; some lose it by becoming dilettantes, groping at modish styles they don't understand. But it takes a master ironist to fall into mediocrity by embracing sincerity and scoffing at dancefloor trends-- and Pet Shop Boys' frontman Neil Tennant has built his career out of being a master ironist. That, it turns out, is why the band's 10th studio album is such a disappointment.