Super is the thirteenth studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys, released on 1 April 2016, on the band’s own label, x2, through Kobalt Label Services. It is available on vinyl and compact disc along with a digital download. It debuted at No. 3 on the UK album chart, lead single “The Pop Kids” was played on BBC Radio 2 & Radio 6, Absolute Radio and several smaller stations, reaching No. 1 on the Physical Singles Chart & narrowly missing out on the Top 100 in the main chart.
Happiness—-Building with magnificent vocal manipulation and swirling synths, this is an incredible way to start off this release. Always remaining true to the trademark sound the fans expect, this is an interesting track with the actual chorus beginning the track and the synth leading the rest of the track. Neil is in perfect vocal form….talk/singing his way through the song with Chris delivering trademark synths that drive the track. This is classic!
The Pop Kids—-The first proper single from this release, this has a unforgettable chorus that sticks with you for days on end….typical and magnificent. Beginning with trademark PSB synth lines, this is a treat and a wonderful romp through memory as it reckons back to the early days of the band. Neil is so cool and laid back…delivering line after line of unforgettable lyrics and Chris delivering a chorus synth that never leaves your brain. The soft hum that runs through the underbelly of the song is just classic stuff…I love this…I have loved this band from the beginning….every release is a treat. There is a nice disco style cow bell effect that ushers in a cameo vocal from Chris…..Wonderful!
Twenty-Something—-Beginning with a sad swirling synth piano line, this does not disappoint when it finally opens up to Neil and his vocal. There is a sad quality to the vocal…..probably missing the twenty-something era. The track has a nice under tone of reggae synth that is damn contagious. The double vocal ed chorus is classic PSB….the slow hum of melancholy always there…even when you are dancing.
Groovy—- At the onset, much more dance driven and fast paced. The higher synth tones open up the song to a sing a long chorus that drives the track to the first reprise. This has all the elements we expect from the band as fans….not bad for 13 albums in! This is a nice dance floor romp that I’m surprised has not been remixed…..yet. There are nice ebbs and flows to the music…cooling you down and building right back up again…..fantastic.
The Dictator Decides—-This track took a bit to settle with me…the intro synth lines are odd and un- even. The effects that fill the back drop are interesting and the underbelly of the song has a sad element to it. The vocal is very slow to enter….but Neil finally makes his appearance with an almost spoken vocal that is filled with serious lyrics. The title is true to form…this is not a pleasant track…..but we are used to the intermittent quasi-political statement from the band. This will grow on you.
Pazoo!—-Returning to full throttle synth with this track, the track has all kinds of wonderful effects running through the underbelly of the intro. Already sounding like a classic remix, this reminds me of the acid-house experiments of some of the B-sides of PSB. The vocals are manipulated and the ebbs and flows make me want to take E and dance my ass off. This is just great!
Inner Sanctum—-A nice synth buildup to the song ushers in the low hum that seems to live in every track this band produces. There are swirls and a slight epic sound to the long intro to this track. You almost sit on the edge of your seat waiting for the vocal. When it begins, it is wrapped in a synth sound as well…filled with a serious quality that only Neil can deliver. This track goes everywhere…the ebbs and flows are maddening…but at the same time magnificent.
Undertow—-The music slowly emerges out of a darkness that builds and builds with a beautiful almost orchestral sound that is smashed by a foot stomping bass line. The vocal enters with another of those unforgettable chorus lines that will live in your brain for a few days after hearing this. The song is actually properly constructed with lines and chorus….a bit rare on this release. This is classic dance floor PSB……a favorite.
Sad Robot World—-True to the title, this track has that wonderfully melancholy sound that I love about this band. Neil actually sings his way through this track…I’m amazed his voice is so high and perfect this far into his life. This is a nice break in the release…offering a subtle cool-down and allowing you to really appreciate the beauty and talent of this band. They can do anything! The tale is interesting….makes you wonder what the world would be like in a Robot driven existence.
Say It To Me—-Returning to full throttle synth lines, this track is another favorite of mine. It is full of rhyming lines that will slowly enter your forehead and live there for an eternity. The backing vocals make the song much larger and Chris also seems to provide a few lines here and there. The vocal…almost spoken has a classic English pronunciation to it…making it a bit sardonic and sarcastic in sound. I somehow don’t believe Neil could be so forceful in real life.
Burn—-Another dance floor extravaganza….the synth lines are huge and drive the song at a frantic pace. Chris knows how to construct a song by now…it’s incredible. The vocal is not a favorite of mine….but the line….’burn this disco down before the morning comes’ seems possible with the magnificent music Chris has created. This is wonderfully constructed…..I haven’t danced in awhile.
Into Thin Air—-Ending this release with a bit of a cool down and sedate track, this is not really the case once the song opens up. The high synth tones allow the song to not be as melancholy as some….but the vocal struggles to make you cry. The tone of the song makes me sad…to think that at some point this band will vanish…as most bands do. I hope they survive as long as I do. I need this band in my life forever. This seems like a subtle goodbye….but I don’t believe it.
****3/4 out of 5