Neil Tennant has acknowledged that the Pet Shop Boys’ new album will come as something of a relief to the band’s fans, after their most recent efforts diverted from their much-loved disco anthem sound.
“No one got excited when they heard the Pet Shop Boys were releasing an album about living in LA and getting old,” he muses to HuffPostUK. “But they strangely got a bit more enlivened by the news that a disco album was on the way.”
The Pet Shop Boys’ mastery of this particular genre has resulted in 50 million album sales, including a catalogue of hits including 'West End Girls', 'Rent' and 'Go West'.Go on... remind yourself...
For their 12th studio album, 'Electric', they’ve turned to the talents of master-mixer Stuart Price, the man who put Madonna on the dance-floor for the 'Confessions' album.
“I’m not a purist, but you could call it purely electronic,” muses Tennant of the new sounds.
“When he was a small boy, Stuart bought the Pet Shop Boys’ album ‘Disco’, so he had a very strong idea of what we should sound like. The last album was very stripped back, reflective, and people don’t want that from the Pet Shop Boys. Instead, these are records you can dance to.”
Despite his reading of what fans want from the band, Tennant is too experienced of the wiles of the music industry to be defined by it.
“I'm wary of the notion of the fan base. What they call the fan base comes and goes. Two nights ago in Dortmund, standing in front of me were four beautiful young girls, who sang along with every song. I’m not sure they’d make it into the standard Pet Shop Boys demographic, but they exist.”
The Pet Shop Boys steal the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony...
These are fans collected along the way of the three decades since Tennant and Lowe’s debut track ‘West End Girls’ crawled to the top of the chart in 1986. “
When we signed our first contract, our manager had also signed a seven-album deal for another band, and we thought, ‘like we’ll ever do seven.’ It seemed like such a mountain to climb.”
And when they get to the top of the mountain what happens?
“You get to the top of the peak and discover all the other peaks. It's like Shangri-La,” reports Tennant.
“You're always seeking this pure feeling. And every now and then you achieve it.”
He cites two moments in the Pet Shop Boys’ own creative life as living up to that and, excitingly for fans, one’s from the new album....
"Vocal - it's at the end of this new album, and it's the final encore of our show at the moment. It's pure ecstasy, with chord changes that go round and round, and could just go on forever... "
Tennant then digs into their back-catalogue for the other.
‘It’s a Sin’? ‘Love Comes Quickly’? ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This’ with Dusty Springfield? The list of possibilities is endless, but Tennant is quite specific…
“It was 1990, and the song was ‘Being Boring’. The sound of the record, the video, there was even a real guitar on there, and the low octave and high octave double tracked. The whole thing fitted together, and it was our moment of pop perfection… our Shangri-La.”
'Electric' is released on 15 July through the Pet Shop Boys' own label, produced by Stuart Price, and guest-featuring Example on 'Thursday'. The Pet Shop Boys are currently on tour - info here. And below is a taster, with the song 'Axis'...