Album Review: Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

23 January 2020 | 9:01 am | Mac McNaughton

"The Pet Shop Boys [are] in a pretty fabulous spot as they enter their fifth decade."

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Pet Shop Boys continue to command attention in avant-style after almost 40 years. Chris Lowe blasts open the door to their 14th long-player with dramatic flair as Neil Tennant engages bitch-mode on Will-o-the-Wisp. The former Les Rythmes Digitales, Stuart Price twiddles the knobs (allegedly for the third and final time) finally nailing his take on what makes them the Pet Shop Boys. 

Recorded mostly in Berlin, Hotspot proudly courts their classic tropes, giving listeners a sense of déjà vu. Happy People, for example, has Tennant dropping sprechgesang in almost identical fashion to 1991 single DJ Culture, while Burning The Heather (featuring Bernard Butler on guitar) has the same folky homeliness explored on their Release album. However if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Arcade Fire will be absolutely floored by how closely cut Monkey Business is to their own Signs Of Life, Tennant pulling off a very convincing disco-Win Butler.

Dreamland featuring Years & Years is radio-friendly pop magic and Wedding In Berlin is a bouncy celebration of marriage equality, leaving the Pet Shop Boys in a pretty fabulous spot as they enter their fifth decade.