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Friday, June 9, 2006

LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS

Pet Shop Boys "Fundamental"


Desperate times call for desperate measures, so as England and New Labour hurtle into the void, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe retake the dance floor for all the not-so-young dudes who long for a more compassionate, morally relative world.

The Pet Shop Boys are now middle-aged men, so for every synth-fueled party tune like "Psychological" there is a romantic ballad like "I Made My Excuses and Left." But unlike the bittersweet love songs that dominated their last album, these are merely bitter. Some claim it's all about Tennant's disillusionment with Tony Blair ("I'm with Studpid"), though it seems more a case of disappointment with the world. And while it sounds as if they are simply dancing their disillusions away, disco is a good way to get people's attention -- which explains the participation of Trevor Horn, who last produced the Boys on 1988's pure dance collection "Introspective."

Once considered masters of irony, Tennant and Lowe are purposefully direct here, and the results are as purposefully entertaining as pop music gets. At the same time, I'd like to think the inclusion of a genuinely bad song by schlock songwriter Diane Warren is an ironic comment on something, but I can't figure out just what it is.



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