Three years between albums can seem a long time in music, but with twenty-five years behind them this matters little to the Pet Shop Boys, who leave the politics of ‘Fundamental’ behind to mark a return to positive pop opulence with their tenth album ‘Yes’ also serving as a reminder that the self-effacing duo are not yet ready to be superannuated.
Album forerunner ‘Love etc.’, the result of some co-writing and production assistance from Brian Higgins’ Xenomania, establishes an immediately recognisable glossy palette, but to keep their independent voice culturally relevant, it’s not a palette built entirely on pop whimsy, with eruditely placed social comment warning against trash-mag promoted materialism and Big Brother sown aspirations of instant celebrity but more importantly alongside another Xenomania co-write ‘The Way It Used To Be, ‘Beautiful People’ and ‘Did You See Me Coming’ endorsing self-worth, self-respect and quite simply, love.
Also returning to the self-confessed industry outsiders fold is collaborating stalwart Johnny Marr fronting guitar and harmonica (a Pet Shop Boys first) on ‘Legacy’, the grandiose orchestral carousel arrangement credited to Owen Pallett; their quintessential pomp and British elegance further underlined by the stately omnipresence of ‘All Over The World’ which merges the splendour of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite with the macho calling-card of a mid-eighties lad’s holiday and also through the historically informed ‘King Of Rome’.
Far more than an ostentatious outpouring of fanciful pop, after a quarter of a century in the spotlight, the respectful elder statesmen touch upon the trials of living under the gaze of a sensationalist hungry public through the self-portraits painted by ‘Vulnerable’ and ‘Building A Wall’, while ‘More Than A Dream’ and ‘Pandemonium’ allude to a lineage of dance-floor elation.
The creative success and longevity that the Pet Shop Boys have enjoyed speaks volumes, enough to be recognised by The British Phonographic Industry for their outstanding contribution to music and while ‘Yes’ won't invoke new revelations, it does reinforce their importance as an asset to an industry they’ve largely kept at bay. And that’s no mean feat.