Review: Pet Shop Boys stay danceable and electric on 'Super'

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Pet Shop Boys, "Super" (x2 Records)

Pet Shop Boys take another drink from the fountain of youth on "Super," offering more dance than pop 13 studio albums and more than 30 years after "West End Girls."

Written in Berlin and recorded in Los Angeles, "Super" is the second installment of a probable trilogy with triple Grammy-winning producer Stuart Price, and the duo delves into the nightclub scene with their usual aplomb.

Neil Tennant is a keen observer with sharp storytelling skills, allowing him to shape all that data into tunes like "The Pop Kids," the album's first single, a tale of 1990s club-goers looking back 15 years as if it were another lifetime.

"Twenty-something" shows the difference 15 years can make and how traditional careers have become more elusive — "Thirty's calling round the bend/ Will your ideas ever trend?" — and come with sometimes soul-crushing pressures.

Chris Lowe has an uncanny ability to keep even the most overfamiliar keyboard riffs from drifting to the far side of cheesy and there's enough variety to ensure that none overstay their welcome.

A few slow tunes and instrumentals cleverly break the dance music dominance. The protagonist of "The Dictator Decides" agrees the world would be better off without him, and Tennant sees the tracks of the machines' tears on the poignant "Sad Robot World."

Pet Shop Boys will perform four sold-out shows in July at London's Royal Opera House. Is dancing in the aisles improper etiquette?