Pet Shop Boys Fundamental

The good thing about a new album from the Pet Shop Boys is that you generally know what you’re in for, and it’s usually good — barring a few bad patches like Bilingual and their last album, the mildly disappointing Release. On Fundamental, their ninth studio album, the lads are definitely starting to slow down a little — half of the album’s tracks are essentially ballads. However that doesn’t stop them from making wonderful, epic electronic pop along the way on "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show,” "Intergral” or the Bush and Blair inspired single "I’m With Stupid.” These songs are classic Pet Shop Boys anthems with big sweeping arrangements and lush production, this time around courtesy of Trevor Horn. Although the rest of the album is more subtle, it’s far from dull. The opening track "Psychological” has a dark groove that sounds more Depeche Mode than disco, and the recent wave of electro seems to have made its way into Chris Lowe’s programming, which is still razor-sharp. Neil Tennant’s nasal voice hasn’t changed a bit, and it marries perfectly to quieter tracks like "Numb” or "Luna Park.” Fundamental manages to be a great adult pop album as well as a good reflection of the current electronic sounds on the dance floor. Not bad for a couple of old guys. (EMI)