Pet Shop Boys: Hotspot review – Heartbreak, hedonism and sharp-eyed observations

Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 06:00

   
Hot damn is it good to have the Pet Shop Boys back  

Album:
Hotspot

Artist:
Pet Shop Boys

Label:
x2

Genre:
Electronic

Hot damn is it good to have the Pet Shop Boys back. Four years on from Super, which brought us the wry and wicked The Pop Kids, their 14th album Hotspot harnesses heartbreak and hedonism. Produced by long-time collaborator Stuart Price (Madonna’s Hung Up, Kylie Minogue’s All the Lovers) and recorded between Berlin and London, there’s an invigorating club energy throughout while allowing room for stark and reflective moments.

On Will O the Wisp, Neil Tennant bitingly imagines the life of a former lover and party regular who now might have “a wife and job and all that” as Chris Lowe delivers blockbuster and joy-affirming synths. Romance gets its time to shine on the cotton-soft You are the One and, in another totally joyful move, Mendelssohn’s Wedding March gets the Euro-trance treatment on Wedding in Berlin.

While good times and lavish lifestyles are embraced on the disco-tinged Monkey Business, the downsides are presented with caution on Hoping for a Miracle and the stunning Burning the Heather. The former presents loneliness when you were once the centre of the party and the latter drums up imagery of an elderly man starved of intimacy.

Framing the fragility of the human condition, from high-flying ego to down-and-out isolation, and lacing it with typical humour and sharp-eyed observations, this is a poignant record that provides moments for darkened dance floors and private consideration.