Fundamental is the ninth studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was released in May 2006 in the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Canada. It was released in late June 2006 in the United States. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number five on 28 May 2006 (see 2006 in British music). In the US the album peaked at #150 selling 7,500 copies in its first week. As of April 2009 it had sold 46,000 copies in the US and 66,000 copies in the UK. Fundamental earned two Grammy nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards for Best Dance/Electronic Album and Best Dance Recording with “I’m with Stupid”.
The album was produced by the Pet Shop Boys and Trevor Horn and it features eleven new Pet Shop Boys compositions, and “Numb”, written by Diane Warren (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe originally planned to have “Numb” be one of two new tracks on PopArt, but opted instead for “Miracles” and “Flamboyant”).
The liner notes show that the album is dedicated to two executed Iranian gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were hanged on 19 July 2005. Some reports have suggested the two may have been executed for engaging in homosexual behaviour, though the official Iranian report was that they were hanged for raping a 13-year-old boy. The album was very well received by critics, some considering it to be their best album since Very, but its sales failed to improve much on the sales of their last two albums.
Psychological—-Of course, any fan can tell you that there is never a doubt when you hear the opening strains to a PSB track who they are….this is no exception. Lowe has his trademark sound and the vocal of Tennant can never be confused with anyone except perhaps Al Stewart. This track is magnificent….dark..and with a layer of eerie warning to it almost. But the brightness is there as well. This is wonderful.
The Sodom And Gomorrah Show—-Beginning a bit mundane, this track explodes into a huge stomper that sucks you in and encourages you to dance your ass off. The progression of the keyboard is remarkable…and the voice from Neil never seems to age. This is huge…an over-whelming chorus that elicits joy and wild abandon. A classic PSB track.
I Made My Excuses And Left—-Underneath all of the synth, the glam and the joyous dancing, there is always a sadness that lies underneath of the brilliance of PSB. For me…this brings it a bit more to the forefront. Neil delivers a vocal that gives me goosebumps…even still today. This has an intense lyrical line….a poignant and sad synth base….all adding up to an unforgettable journey of introspection. This is brilliant!!!
Minimal—-One of my favorite tracks on this release. I even have a software embeded single that allows you to make your own version of the song. I love the energy…the remarkable ability to match all the letters with the beats…lol. The message of the song…and the brilliant vocal…this is a standout. Such a joyful synth line.
Numb—-Penned by the famed Diane Warren, this was a perfect match for the brilliance of The Boys. This is so sad…intense…but has a joy to it I can’t explain. The huge orchestrated intro is just fantastic…..seemingly to be built around the vocal that Tennant would produce for the song. The gentle piano….not overdone…but present…adds to the sadness of the song. This is a magical moment for me in the career of The Boys….just as good if not better than October Symphony.
God Willing—-With that brilliant flowing synth line that just seems to meld right around Neil’s vocal cords, this is another song that literally defines the band, Rarely on any disc is there a single throw away track….although not lauded…..this track is phenomenal. The energy flows throughout the whole song….this is like a song from a huge soundtrack.
Luna Park—-Sounding to me, like a continuation of Numb, this is another one of those tracks that will make you sit back and reflect. The bass heavy synth line is missing…but the keyboard Orchestration guides you through the line after line of intense lyric. This is beautiful and brilliant.
I’m With Stupid—-The context of the song rumored to be about George W. and Tony Blair, you have to…at this point sit back and laugh at the British-ness of it all. Delivered with the same irony you would expect from Morrissey, this was wonderfully brilliant…still makes me chuckle.
Casanova In Hell—-Again….full of irony and classic British humor, I love this track…although I much prefer the live version on Concrete with Rupert Wainwright…..I still look back on this with fondness…just because it is so funny and so damn true!
Twentieth Century—-Returning to the classic sometimes creaking synth line of Lowe, Neil always seems to find a perfect balance for his sardonic lyric wrapped around the swirls of synths that Chris can’t help but provide. These two are a match made in heaven…this is sheer brilliance.
Indefinite Leave To Remain—-Another track that is maybe…provided to allow you another chance to look inside yourself and determine if everything is as it should be. This is a truly brilliant track….the songwriting…combined with the instrumentation…just reminds me what an unstoppable force these two are.
Integral—-An incredibly dark and timely song set to brilliant bright synth lines…just shows the contradiction of the band. Brilliant! Speaking….in my opinion of the nefarious actions that the Internet can bring…this is a very nice warning to the masses. A nice spoken word chorus that reminds me of Parinaro….this is just brilliant!
Fugitive [Richard X Remix]—-I will never understand why this song was not issued on the original release or why it was not released as a single. The hyper-kinetic synth lines are fucking brilliant…everything about this track literally embodies the career of a band that has worked so hard. This is worth far ore than a B-side or casual listen…this is pure genius!
Ring Road [Demo]—-Almost an odd type of intro…the synth is almost noisy….but opens up a bit. the weird stringy style 80’s synth line does not gel with me. The bass overtakes things but Neil delivers a vocal that seems pushed to the back a bit. This is nice to own…but will never be a favorite!
The Performance Of My Life [Demo]—-Again, at the onset…I don’t gel with the off synth line…but Neil enters with a magical dead pan vocal that takes you on a magical journey. This develops a melody that is so addictive to me..it belongs on a proper release as well. This is a magical moment…I would love to see how something like this comes together between the two of them.
One-Way Street [Demo]—-Brilliant…swirling synths from the very first note. Neil delivers a higher tone that still amazes me with the ease he performs. This has a low reverberation through the underbelly of the song that is key to the sound. The chorus part of the track will live in your brain for sometime…another brilliant effort.
Girls Don’t Cry—-This track has kicked around for some time. I still believe it belonged on a proper release as well. It must be hard to decide what tracks to ‘throw away’ from the structure of an actual release. The sound of the synth line is deep and dark…the vocal is magical and soars with a brilliance only Neil can deliver…this is fantastic.
The Resurrectionist—-Brilliant!!!! A true dance floor stomper that makes me want to get up and dance with abandon. The chorus is this gigantic huge affair that lifts even the lowest spirit This is brilliant….why is this not a single? People have no idea of the genius of this duo!! That synth melody line is brilliant!
The Sodom And Gomorrah Show [Demo]—-Quite a bit more stripped down and under developed, the basic idea of the song still shines through. I feel like this really does not offer that much new as to the development of the finalized song…really just filler to me…this is basically a more naked version of the final cut.
Dancing In The Dusk [Demo]—-A bit down-tempo….nut still magical. Anytime I get to hear a bit of an unheard track from the duo is for me an adventure and pleasure. Neil actually sings at times on this track…and the vocal overlays really don’t sound like a demo….this is nice.
After The Event—-An almost horror movie piano line introduces the song…with that trademark low hum in the background that seems to travel through every song. The ‘noise’ clears for the introduction of the vocal. The song is pleasant…the delivery is stellar…the lyrics are a story….the chorus is the KEY to the entire thing…..the huge sound of it sucks my brain right in. Another winner.
The Former Enfant Terrible—-This, for me , is very reminiscent of The Sound Of An Atom Splitting. I don’t think it really offers any thing new or interesting…I could do without this….but still it is The Boys.
No Times For Tears [Orchestral Mix]—-Beautifully constructed and delivered with a vocal that I will remember for quite sometime, this is a bit of a lackluster track for me…I will accept anything the band has to offer with little criticism…but this does fall a bit flat for me.
God Willing [Original Full-length Mix ]—-Very, very, very slow intro and beginning of the track. Eventually, the sun does seem to burst through the convoluted instrumentation and the track becomes a bit livelier…but it takes a very long, tedious time. This was terrible….
I’m With Stupid [PSB Ma[xi-Mix]—-A bit more energized with the requisite DJ break points throughout the song for even longer mixing, I do like this version. The instrumentation is lively and very 90’s in sound….as said before…there are nice mixing interludes but also a healthy dose of the original vocal…this works for me.
Answer The Phone [Ringtone]—–Ok…whatever…kind of humerous
Where Are You? [Ringtone]—-People pay for this right?
Water [Ringtone]—-Bizarre……not getting it….
Numb [Single Edit]—-Really…..these ‘edits’ don’t offer much new to the die hard fan. There is little unique about this version. The harmonies seem a bit more pronounced to me….but this is just wasted space to me….
One Night—-Really nice vocally…the irritating high pitch synth line that runs through the song graciously disappears as the beautifully constructed chorus pen up and then seems to re-appear…much to my chagrin. I like the song…but the instrumentation is obnoxious. The vocal is beautifully presented.
A Certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’—-Literally brilliant from the very first note, this takes me back to the glorious 90’s period when the Boys produced dance floor classic after dance floor classic. This is just wonderfully put together…the synth is magical and modernly retro….the vocal is classic…this is a wonderful track….also on the Winner CD 5.
Transfer [Visionaire Mix]—-This, for me, has a rather dark edge to it from the very first note. the synth delivered is a flat consistent feel that is not even interrupted by the entrance of the vocal. Some beats emerge…but this snip is sad.
Integral [PSB Perfect Immaculate 7″ Mix]—-Offering little new except an abbreviated version of a masterful track, I suppose it was included to fill space. This is nice….but still offers little new to what we already knew was genius.
Integral [PSB Perfect Immaculate Mix]—-Really a DJ mix of the song that includes lots of breaks and mixing opportunities, this is not much different than the original…although it is nice to own.
****3/4 out of 5