Pet Shop Boys - Yes
Ed James 05/05/2009
Climb aboard Neil Tennant's VW Golf. Blokes with their shirts off provide backing vocals for an opener which rollicks away down familiarly leafy avenues.
A stuttering sample of a ubiquitous piece of classical music such as might normally grace the efforts of the most tedious of rappers opens the second number but soon expands into a magnificent sequence of possibilities. This towers alongside their 80s output in its sky-scraping majesty.
Beautiful People is dull; 'I want to live like beautiful people.' You do already, Neil, and have done for over two decades. Pwarp-pwarp go the synths.
Did You See Me Coming? is a familiar, danceably self-conscious musing on the pleasures of an adequate relationship. Bands who make a song-and-dance about 'celebrating the ordinary' should look to the way that Tennant has chronicled satisfaction and then give up. If only everything in life could be as reliable as the Pet Shop Boys.
Vulnerable is a bit of a plodder. A flat drum-beat, stock chord changes; these are men who once thought that collaborating with Robbie Williams on 'Music for Showrooms' was acceptable. Insecurity isn't interesting in itself. There's a bit too much forced dignity in this middle section. Four and a half minutes of this is too much and More than a Dream is also mid-paced and twice as long as it need be. 'It's the story of my life / It's the way we've always been', he sings, although I'm not so sure. The zest of their very best material (the arid confidence of Neil's enunciation, the ability of Chris Lowe to juxtapose the lushest of chords with a rhythm fashioned from clipped metal) is absent.
There's too much guitar! Building a Wall is a bit of a gear-shift. 'Protection! Prevention! Detection! Detention!' sounds like a Public Announcement: 'The Man from Uncle / Caesar Conquered Gaul'… Who do you think you are? Captain Brie?!' (The sleeve notes suggest that the last word is actually 'Britain.')
'If I was the King of Rome/ I couldn't be more tragic' is the lyric that rounds off this listless missed opportunity of a middle-section.
Pandemonium is a lovely shift. The bassline owes a lot to the Human League's Empire State Human. Sunny in sound, it provides an opportunity for Tennant to exercise his vocal range. 'Dance to Your Drum / Living in Ecstasy' - what the Boys do best.
We end proceedings standing with the pair of them on a promontory overlooking the Channel Four. Tennant reminds us that 'you'll get over it', before bidding us adieu with a nonchalant wave. It's slightly depressing that a new PSB record should send you back immediately to their earliest work but there is enough of their characteristic melody and defiance book ending Yes to carry a pretty stale mid-section.