Pet Shop Boys: Super (X2) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Pet Shop Boys



Apr 08, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Perhaps the nadir of The Simpsons’ decline is the 19th-season episode “That ‘90s Show,” an anachronistic flashback episode that needlessly rewrites the history of the beloved show and its titular family.

“Pop Kids,” from Pet Shop Boys’ 13th studio album, Super, is nowhere near as egregious, but it is jarring to hear Neil Tenant’s similarly retconned nostalgia for going to university in the early ‘90s. “They called us the pop kids,” he sings. No, they didn’t, Neil: 1993’s Very was your fifth platinum album in seven years and they all reached the U.K. top three.

Alone, this isn’t the greatest of pop music crimes, but it’s one that’s compounded by the trite rhymes: “They called us the pop kids/‘Cause we loved the pop hits/And quoted the best bits.” Then later: “I studied history while you did biology/To you the human body didn’t hold any mysteries.” That doesn’t even quite scan.

Super is a neat microcosm of Pet Shop Boys’ later-day career. Just as the disappointing and half-baked Elysium was followed less than a year later by the brilliant Electricpossibly the best album of 2013this latest effort is maddening. Moments of genius that are so obviously effortlessthe clever time signatures of “Happiness” and “Undertow,” the restless and spiky electronics and killer bass drops on “Inner Sanctum” in particularare mixed with some frankly lazy-sounding dross. At these moments it feels as if the duo’s innate talentso clearly superior to their British electropop contemporariesis a burden that breeds complacency.

“Groovy,” for example, is a slice of four-to-the-floor cheese that wouldn’t sound out of place on a trashy late-night European TV show from the ‘90s, while “The Dictator Decides”complete with marching drum beat and overdubbed crowd protest noisesand the Yoshimi-aping “Sad Robot World” are way, way too on the nose. All in all, it makes for a record whose potential to be exceptional is all-too frustrating. (

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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