WORTH A LOOK?: ****
TRACKLIST: Will-o-the-Wisp; You Are The One; Happy People; Dreamland; Hoping For A Miracle; I Don’t Wanna; Monkey Business; Only The Dark; Burning The Heather; Wedding In Berlin
It seems a very Pet Shop Boys moment that, as the UK leaves the EU, the duo’s ‘Berlin album’ enters this country’s chart at number three.
- Read on for reasons including how this is the Boys’ best album for 14 years
Opener track Will-o-the-Wisp immediately locates the listener in the German capital (‘From Ulan to Wachau Strassa’) as our narrator rediscovers a lost love to a banging techno soundtrack.
You Are The One is more restrained and melodic as we’re ‘Driving down to Zehlendorf’ and ‘Back into Mitte to see a film’ as the object of the Boys’ affection seems visible yet out of reach.
Happy People is the sort of melancholic Euro dance that Robyn does so well with an upbeat backing to lyrics such as ‘Happy People/Living in a sad world’.
Three tracks came out before this album and we’ve written about the merits of Dreamland (with Years & Years), Burning The Heather and this collection’s best track Monkey Business.
Elsewhere, I Don’t Wanna apparently reminds the Boys of old-school Madonna, apt given that she’s currently playing a residency at London’s Palladium, and is about Friday nights and waiting for the special someone to ring your phone.
Only The Dark recalls one of their finest moments (We All Feel Better In The Dark) and lyrically fits what appears to be one of the album’s themes, being in couples, with a lyrical flourish that is so very them: ‘It feels so good to be just the two of us, Anyone else around would be superfluous.’
We mention Wedding In Berlin only because, while we think it’s the least successful song, it’s an interesting image of union at a time when the UK is severing its ties with its European neighbours.
The Boys are always contrary (who else would release South American-inspired collection Bilingual at the height of Britpop?) and so this album proves. What it is though, we think, is their best collection since 2006’s Fundamental.