This review is by guest blogger Mike Antonich from “Now It’s On” – The Best Music from Detroit and beyond
In our post on “Veteran acts returning with new material in 2016”, we listed Pet Shop Boys as one of the groups to look out for. As the April 1st release date of their new album “Super” draws steadily closer, pop legends Pet Shop Boys have released the first official single from the forthcoming full length. “The Pop Kids” is actually the second preview from their thirteenth studio album. “Inner Sanctum” was made available in January when the album was officially announced. That track calls to mind “Axis” from 2013’s “Electric“, both mostly instrumental electronic dance tracks with minimal vocals from Neil Tennant. That should come as no surprise since Tennant and Chris Lowe have again teamed up with producer Stuart Price for the new album. Price helped Pet Shop Boys fashion an all-out, storming electronic dance album in “Electric” and they seem poised to do it again with “Super“.
While “Inner Sanctum” was a nice teaser to show that the duo were still firmly rooted on the dance floor for this album, “The Pop Kids” is a wise choice for the lead single. The lyrics and music carry a 90s vibe as Tennant tells the story of friends in college in London in the early 90’s with an unabashed love for pop music. It is a brilliant lyric that speaks both to the duo’s 35 year devotion to pop music, regardless of what fads and trends came and went in music, as well as the loyalty that exists in fans of the genre. For “The Pop Kids“, there has never been any wavering in their love of good pop music, trends be damned. Though the song’s nostalgia-inducing lyric references London in the early 90s, it should resonate with those Americans that became a part of a shrinking minority that pledged an undying allegiance to pop music in those years. This loyalty was rare and remarkable in a time wherein the American musical mainstream had become increasingly dismissive of pop in the wake of the meteoric rise in popularity of grunge and alternative rock. There must have been a natural kinship among people that shared this love for pop music. This song serves as an anthem that celebrates that kinship among not just Pet Shop Boys fans, but also die-hard fans of pop music everywhere. I was 14 when “West End Girls” (the band’s signature hit in the US) became a hit. In the thirty years since, I have become a fan of many other forms of music, from electronic to folk to funk to name a few. But to this day, nothing gets to me quite like a great pop record. If you know this feeling I describe, than this single will surely connect with you.
Given the Price production, it’s easy to find this track fitting in with the material from “Electric“. It is somewhat comparable to that album’s first commercial single “Vocal“, but “The Pop Kids” is more accessible and radio friendly, even though sadly American terrestrial radio has little interest in supporting veteran artists these days. But with a decent video and the proper online support, the song can find an audience. It sounds fresh and current, while still retaining that signature Pet Shop Boys sound and their knack for highly melodic dance pop. Even better for those pop music collectors like me, the song will be released on a limited edition CD single, sold by the band through their website, that will contain remixes and two non-album B-Sides (a gracious nod to the final chapter of Vinyl era’s glory years in which the duo rose to prominence). This is a tradition Tennant and Lowe have refused to give up in this day and age of digital files, each single from their album still gets a physical release with non-album tracks and remixes. What collector or fan doesn’t love that? If you’re a Pop Kid who hasn’t connected with Pet Shop Boys in a long while, this should be the single to win you back.
Here is a full-length lyric video of “Pop Kids“:
STAR RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
“Pop Kids” by Pet Shop Boys is getting 5 plays a day on our global online radio broadcasts. Our radio station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Pet Shop Boys is a fairly regular staple on our station. Alongside new music by newer artists, we also feature newer material by veteran artists such as the Pet Shop Boys, Simply Red, Simple Minds, a-ha, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, INXS, Spandau Ballet, George Michael, Culture Club, and Take That. We go beyond just the “popular on radio” singles and even feature other radio-worthy album tracks and b-sides by these artists.
Give us a spin when you get a chance.
We just might become your alternative of choice!