Did You See Me Coming?
en: Yes (Pet Shop Boys album) [info]
Like greatest hits albums, outstanding contribution awards are often last rites for a music career, proof that the recipient's finest work is long past. But for anyone who has followed the Pet Shop Boys' unlikely, dazzling journey, it will not be a total shock that these canniest of pop operators have used their Brits recognition as the springboard for their most vivacious, consistent and adorable album since 1993's Very.
Kicking off with the wondrous lead single, Love Etc, with its tingling electronic sheen and ravishing melody, the Xenomania-produced Yes is as inventive and flamboyant as the strained Fundamental was falsely rumoured to be.
There are fumbles - notably, the closing ballad Legacy, which aims at grandeur and profundity, but unravels over six long, long minutes into a dog's breakfast - but for every mis-step there's another where the boys sound on their old sure-footed, imperial form.
The most insatiably poppy numbers, all echoing Very, are the
irrepressible Pandemonium, the lavish All Over The World and the sugar rush of Did You See Me Coming?. The latter, destined to rub up in their back catalogue against the similarly innuendo-ripe So Hard, Rent and Love Comes Quickly, is a joyous reminder that Neil Tennant is one of the few middle-aged men still able to tap into the inner teenager at the heart of great pop.
But few bands are as equally at home in a pool of stately introspection as in a fizzy hot tub of hedonism, which is where the sumptuous King Of Rome and heartbreaking The Way It Used To Be come in. Built on a fluttering synth hook, over which Chris Lowe piles his trademark orchestral flourishes and electro squiggles, this last song joins Love Etc as the most perfect fusion of Xenomania and Pet Shop Boys sensibilities here.
The Pet Shop Boys needed neither the Brit award nor this album to cement their status as one of the finest pop acts of all time, with their remarkable combination of thrilling pizzazz and searing intelligence. But for us grateful fans, Yes is a wonderful vindication, and their finest album in many, many years.