Fundamental

Studio Album by released in 2006
Fundamental's tracklist:
Psychological
The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
I Made My Excuses and Left
Minimal
Numb
God Willing
Luna Park
I'm With Stupid
Casanova in Hell
Twentieth Century
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Integral

Fundamental review

Dowagers of British disco have returned to what they know best

The elder statesmen of synth-pop are back with new album Fundamental, a deliciously dark yet essentially thorough Pet Shop Boys album that looks at the world in 2006, taking contemporary events and turning them into electronically flourished songs. A new record by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe is cause for excitement and celebration in itself, but when legendary pop producer Trevor Horn is on board – for the first time since 1988 – too, seventh heaven surely beckons. But Fundamental is absolutely not a throwback. Rather, this is a record that could only have been made now, and has 2006 stamped all over it. After flirting with everything from contemporary alterno pop (2002’s thoroughly unconvincing Release) to the movie soundtrack (their recent score for Battleship Potemkin), these dowagers of British disco have returned to what they know best. It’s been a long ride for the pair, who’ve influenced artists from Madonna to Magnetic Fields, but Fundamental almost equals 1990’s Behaviour in terms of quintessential style and features their trademark setting of kitchen-sink realism/sardonic social commentary against clubby house and grand yet melancholic orchestrations.

It's the overtly political tracks that hold most interest

Lead single I’m With Stupid – inspired by Blair’s fawning relationship with Bush – is all walloping syn-drums and high-gloss, ’80s production, while Integral (a direct attack on the proposed introduction of ID cards) is a thumping, Euro-trance anthem of almost Tatu-like absurdity. By contrast, opener Psychological is set to a moody electro pulse, Tennant’s menacing vocal marking metronomic time until that creamy, billowing, inimitably Pet Shop Boys synth sound floods in, making sweet light of the darkness. I Made My Excuses And Left is more symphonically fabulous than any song about the shell shock of catching your beloved staring into the eyes of another has a right to be. Second single Minimal is a killer, all broken beats, New Order bass line and boogietastic electro breakdown, while Luna Park (Tiny Dancer-era Elton united with Air) is plain lovely. The transience of pleasure is tackled in Casanova In Hell. But it's the overtly political tracks that hold most interest. Twentieth Century, an articulate examination of the war in Iraq, musically feels like a companion piece to Psychological, again with minimalist synth bass and just the vaguest suggestion of beats. The lyrics, as with so much of Fundamental, are subtle and resonant.

Fundamental is a confident affirmation of the Pet Shop Boys' musical strengths

Pet Shop Boys fans were pretty excited to learn Chris and Neil were teaming up with the King of lush electro pop – Trevor Horn to make this album and the end result certainly doesn't disappoint. Fundamental is a confident affirmation of the Pet Shop Boys' musical strengths. This is an album that harnesses all the best elements of the boy's classic pop sound while subtly transporting it into the 21st century without too much contemporary contrivance. It harks back to the mid to late '80s when gargantuan orchestral pop replete with huge techno stabs and even bigger snare drums ruled the airwaves. Sprinkled with Hi-NRG frivolity, Fundamental is the sound we most fondly remember the Pet Shop Boys for in the first place. The result may be the very best album of their career, a mature and considered work, which satisfies head, heart and feet simultaneously. It's been said many times that the Pet Shop Boys are taskmasters at creating intelligent pop music. But with tracks like Twentieth Century, I'm With Stupid and Integral, Fundamental is the thinking person's electro pop album of 2006 so far. It's great to have Pet Shop Boys back, especially with tongues in their cheeks again.

(06.06.2006)
Rate review4.22
Total votes - 31


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