REVIEW: Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental


The cult synth pop duo take a slower but effective approach on their ninth studio album.

Artist: Pet Shop Boys
Album: Fundamental
Year: 2006
Label: Parlophone

When you reach a certain cult satus with a certain group of followers, radical expectations are often placed upon you. Some fall under the pressure, while others embrace the spotlight. The Pet Shop Boys, mainly known for their 80s material, have actually been releasing consistant albums quite consistantly without many bumps in the roads. Despite the demand for new and often pointless ideas, The Pet Shop Boys really have not changed their sound dramatically. Depeche Mode shocked many last year with Playing The Angel, and Pet Shop Boys’ newest album, Fundamental, should have the same response if people are accepting to a songs based around a slower tempo.

Several of the songs jump out of the gate quickly and never cease to stop, such as the excitable ‘The Sodom & Gomorrah Show’ or the sliding finesse in ‘Minimal’. On the other end, you have songs such as ‘I Made My Excuses And Left’, one that builds up with dramatic synths for nearly two minutes before Neil Tennant actually says a word. The song is fitting for the mood though, asn Tennant eventually reaches an instrumental chorus after such talk as, “a silence filled with a room, as awkward as an elephant. In a crowded court, I was now a supplicant.” The Pet Shop Boys’ seem to have made Fundamental a bit more dramatic than their more recent albums, as evidenced in the stunning ‘Numb’, written by Diane Warren, which is a beautifully composed song with typical lyrics dealing with loving and losing.

Some gems later in the album include ‘Twentieth Century’, a song in which Madonna would swoon over. The slightly elegant chorus, “Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem… let’s stay together” is simply put over a simple arpeggiator, but Tennant and Lowe continue to do what they do best in making the song as catchy as any band possibly can. Oddly enough, the most accessible song on the album is most likely the last one, in ‘Integral’. While it could easily fit anywhere on a greatest hits, it is a refreshment after a string of slower songs, one of which being the hilarious ‘Casanova in Hell’, which centers around a lady charmer suddenly with the problem of not being able to hold an erection. Oh no! The Pet Shop Boys have released one of their stronger albums in years, as Fundamental really is extremely solid. Though ‘I’m With Stupid’ will probably be the only song to have significant status on the dance charts due to the lack of intensity, Tennant and Lowe have made one of their musically adaptable albums in quite some time.

Score: 7.9/10

01. Psychological
02. The Sodom & Gomorrah Show
03. I made my excuses and left
04. Minimal
05. Numb
06. God willing
07. Luna Park
08. I’m with Stupid
09. Casanova in Hell
10. Twentieth Century
11. Indefinite leave to remain
12. Integral


The Pet Shop Boys – Casanova in Hell


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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