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Record Rating: ****

Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental - EMI Theyre hailed as the founding fathers of modern dance music, and one tends to forget that the Pet Shop Boys were always one step ahead of their contemporaries, thanks to their ability to bridge melodic pop and disco with intelligence and style.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein of the 1980s, their music brought dance and techno into the unsuspecting homes of millions like no other act ever did before. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have never made a bad album, but on their last release, it felt like they were tired and had exploited their sound as far as it would go.

Aiming to correct that, their latest effort Fundamental exhibits a keen sense of purpose and a renewed vigour of their craft. In keeping with their tradition of recording thoughtful dissertations on life in the guise of hit songs, the first single Im With Stupid was a witty satire on the relationship between leaders Tony Blair and George Bush, and made it to the top five worldwide. Featuring almost a dozen brand new Pet Shop Boys compositions and one written by songwriting legend Diane Warren (Numb), the record feels like a classic PSB release, even when at the times it doesn't sound like them.

Second single Minimal is one of the many upbeat electronic outings here produced by the Grammy Award winning Trevor Horn, and he keeps the pace going on with the bizarrely moving Luna Park and radio friendly Integral. Tennant is still an ace at singing about the human condition, only hes all grown up now. Calling Fundamental their first real mature effort would seem an epithet for the duo, but it's an accurate description for this eloquent and elegant effort. It gives them a new spin on life and turns out to be the best Pet Shop Boys album in almost a decade.

Read our other reviews:

Paul Simon - Surprise       Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions       Hoobastank - Everyman For Himself       Las Ketchup - Bloody Mary (Un Blodymary)      


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