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Pet Shop Boys: Hotspot - Album Review

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 31st 2020
New album from old popstars
Sad admission time – I do like and have liked for a long time the Pet Shop Boys. Their first big hit 'West End Girls' always reminds me of Sandi, and I have already talked about their cover of 'Always On My Mind' as well as the duet they did with Dusty Springfield. However, a lot of their stuff released since the year 2000 has not resonated with me, and so it was with some trepidation I approached this, their latest album.

Hotspot by Pet Shop Boys (released: January 2020)

Well, guess what? I actually did not mind it. Those who read a lot of my columns probably realise I prefer rock, especially classic rock, and singer-songwriters. There may have been a few albums that have made people question me, but, in general, you know what you're going to get if I review it.

Well, this is different. This is dance music, Eurodance at that, and while it is not the sort of thing I could listen to on a constant loop, it is certainly not bad music for a gathering of people, or for putting on at the gym. So, you know what you're going to get with this – pop music at its finest.

And here is the album!

'Will-O-The-Wisp' Standard poppy PSB track, with lyrics about a man who can only find himself on the dance floor. Despite its uplifting sound, there is a sense of desperation, as though dancing is all he has. The music is fine and it beats along nicely. This sounds like a track from Eurovision.

'You Are The One' A very slow track, the sort of song I could imagine Kylie Minogue doing justice to. But the lyrical basis – "You are the one/ I was the one" – is a lot more depressing than it at first seems.

'Happy People' With the spoken word verses, it could have been a harking back to 'West End Girls', but the music of the chorus is so much more disco and poppy. Not a bad track, but the chorus line: "Happy people living in a sad world…"

'Dreamland' featuring Years & Years. I have no idea who Years & Years are, but this song has the sort of dance music feel that I feel is lacking in so many artists today. There is something to be said for longevity and not just doing things by committee. The lyrics didn't do much for me, but in my night-club days of the late 80s, early 90s I could certainly see myself dancing to this sort of track.

'Hoping For A Miracle' A slow track, this one did very little for me. Just slow and it felt like it went on too long.

'I Don't Wanna' A guy who forces himself to go dancing despite not wanting to, and yet the whole has the feel of an empty experience, despite the protestations to the contrary. This was probably my favourite track on the album. Not sure why – lyrically it was actually quite depressing – but the music was not over-the-top, just a decent piece of pop.

'Monkey Business' This is another track that sounds like updated disco, with another odd lyrical line – "I'm not dealing with the real world anymore" – that is not entirely positive. Still, for a dance track, quite good, though it does feel slightly more retro.

'Only The Dark' Another track that did little for me. This sounded like the sort of Eurovision entry that gets eliminated in the first round.

'Burning The Heather' Featuring guitar from Bernard Butler, this track stands out as different in a good way on the album. This is yet another depressing track, looking back at a life with some feelings of regret. This album is not as uplifting as I was expecting, and maybe that is why I am enjoying it for the most part – the usual dance music clichés are not there. This track is another definite stand-out.

'Wedding In Berlin' This is a strange track. It does not fit in sonically or lyrically with the rest of the album, but it is catchy. Little punctuations of 'The Wedding March' pepper the track and it has the sound of almost a novelty song.

So, there you have it. For those who state that apart from my one flirtation with liking a Taylor Swift album and my strange fascination with Eurovision, I have ignored pop and dance music, here is an album that is Euro-dance that I enjoyed. Sure, the band does go back to my teenage years, but I have to say, this is a fine piece of modern pop that stands out from a lot of modern music because of how carefully it feels put together.

This is not an album for everyone, but if this is the sort of music you like, there are going to be few finer examples of the genre released, I am sure.
pet shop boys, band, artists, music, pop
Pet Shop Boys in 2013
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Why? Some pop and dance music is really good
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Your Comment
The Pet Shop Boys have never been on my list of favourites but I will admit to liking "West End Girls.'
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7970) 187 days ago
True confession time: the first CD I ever bought was Pet Shop Boys!
by May Cross (score: 3|6949) 186 days ago
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