Not many industry watchdogs in 1984 would have predicted that Pet Shop Boys would still be releasing albums selling out tours in 2014. And yet, 12 albums in, the alternative dance music pioneers are still going strong. Their most recent release, 2013’s “Electric” scored 84/100 on leading ratings site Metacritic, a score that represents “universal acclaim.”
Many American EMPT readers may be scratching their heads. Pet Shop who? Maybe it’s because the band’s biggest hit, “West End Girls,” came out in the mid-80s, or that the duo has purposefully eschewed the spotlight (or at least attempted to…they remain a major commercial force worldwide), but they’ve been largely overlooked by a new generation of stateside dance music fans.
This isn’t your brother’s dance music. It’s your crazy uncle’s. You know, the guy your mom tells you to steer clear of because he still raves it up, and who your grandmother shuns because he’s gay. But you know he isn’t crazy. He’s the one with the right idea. He gave you your first Suicidal Tendencies record and condoms for your 16th birthday.
Just ask the brits, who are apparently always ahead of the game when it comes to music. Pet Shop Boys are a major force across the pond, with over 20 top 10 singles during the span of their career. The guys started out producing Hi-NRG (a subgenre of disco quickly succeeded by house and new wave) tracks, before shifting into a recognizable tech-ed out new-wave sound. First known for their stoic stage demeanor and legendary status in the LGBT community, the band has continued developing into new sounds and styles, and are now a true standard bearer of their era.
“Axis” is the lead single off “Electric.” It is a perfect summation of Pet Shop Boys in 2014. You can still hear the new wave bass line and synth stabs, but now the soft crooning is replaced a Kraftwerkian bark. This is new wave for the festival era