May 29, 2006
PSB: A once-in-a-lifetime production.
Friday I received my amazing Pet Shop Boys' Fundamental package in the mail, just in time for the holiday weekend. I grabbed Fundamentalism (the hot orange one) and took it with me in the car when I drove out to my father's birthday party. I was cruising along in a fucking intense rainstorm with all those chilled out remixes of the new tracks turned up very loud in my car. Lovely.
Fundamental is probably the best album of 2006. It's going to be hard to top, though I hope someone tries. I've started noticing how the album works as a whole unit, with political themes that don't bang you over the head, but are pretty clear. Cool as a cucumber, Neil Tennant.
Twentieth Century, for instance, is the sleeper gem on the album, with it's "sometimes the solution is worse than problem" refrain. I can't help but think of Iraq, but it could easily be about two lovers. Casanova In Hell has another witty lyric about how Casanova's erection is his legacy [if I don't have a proper life, I'll make mine my legacy too]. The music mixes OTT lyrics with Human League-ish ooooh ooooh oohs and strings that rise and fall like a... cock! In contrast, the incredibly sad Numb has moments of pure beauty, especially in the opening (:27 secs) and in the middle eight (2:47), when he sings “take away all madness.” The final 50 seconds are a melancholy comedown that gives me goosebumps.
Trevor Horn's production is immaculate (see what I did there?!). My only complaints: Luna Park sounds like a leftover from Release and doesn't go anywhere. When I loaded I Made My Excuses and Left to iTunes, I cut off the intro and it's much better. You can clip the first 1:48 of it and you're left with an affecting 3 minute ballad.
You've seen my comments on Minimal, Integral and The Sodom And Gomorrah Show. Expect Fugitive too, which I believe would have been an ideal album opener, rather than being relegated to the bonus disc. Be sure to read Tremble Clef's prospectus-like review of the album, spread out over several May days, and also Euphoric for all the news and links. I love that site and its nice webmaster (shout out).
In the meantime, the Brits had the luxury of a Pet Shop Boys concert on TV this weekend, soon to be released as an album. If you think that sounds dull, listen to how amazing they sound live. This is one of my Top Ten PSB songs - the lyrics are terrific...
"You're a devil, now an angel / Suddenly subtle, suddenly silent as a monk / You only tell me you love me when you're drunk"