Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental

Their best album in ten years…

Talk about damning with faint praise!

Of all the music in my collection, the stuff that gets the most raised eyebrows are my Pet Shop Boys records. More so than Meatloaf or Judy. I’ve never been able to work this out. IMHO, they were responsible for some of the best pop records for over a decade period. I even think I was one of the few not to find their NME cover claims (We’re The Smiths you can dance to) sacrilegious.

And, so to Fundamental. Unfortunately named after some political statement they’re trying to make (and not Carry On style innuendo about fundements) it kinda shows that maybe this isn’t their strongest point. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a rich seem of political thinking throughout their whole back catalogue (yes, including – if not especially – West End Girls), but there’s something about this apocalyptic naysaying (The Sodom & Gomorrah Show, anyone?) that smacks of the johnny-come-lately. Even George Michael‘s already covered the same territory as current single I’m With Stupid, and moved on.

So, the songs may seem a little weak (not ‘bad’). And, at points, really really clumsy. Made so, surprisingly, by Neil Tennant’s phrasing. Always a particular style, here it seems as if he’s seeing some of the lyrics for the first time. As if he’s not even tried out how they’re all going to fit with the melody. Really a lazy performance. There’s also a tendency for the words to seem like they were bought wholesale from Thesaurus ‘R’ Us. Particularly on (high point for me, BTW) I Made My Excuses where the use of the word ‘supplicant’ is at best ill-fitting at worst the cringe-worthy punchline to a poorly conceived metaphor.

But, hey! Surely it’s the tunes that count with this sort of thing. Of course. And, despite the presence of Trevor Horn on production, it seems as half-baked as the vocal performance. Whereas in the past they have been striving to escape the limitations of the technology they use (don’t believe me check out Suburbia and compare it to it’s contemporaries) here it’s as if there’s a concerted effort to try an produce some never-existed stereotypical PSB sound.

So, all in, lacking as well. Were this a collection of out-takes, it would be highly repsectable. As an album proper, best in ten years, but only that.

Maybe next time…

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Written by Tony Kiernan

09 June 2006 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Records

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