Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe sat down with producer Stuart Price (the man behind Madonna’s Confessions and Kylie’s Aphrodite) to discuss their new dance album, Electric. Here’s what they had to say, track-by-track:
Chris: We’d been to an Italian disco night in Berlin and got back and felt inspired by the music we’d been listening to – nothing specific, but just the feeling of it all.
Neil: And I think it was this track that might have made us decide to do a separate dance album – ’cause this was never going to go on [last year’s album] Elysium.
Neil: We went to Berlin to write, and then we immediately wrote this. You know in English, ‘bolshy’ means ‘awkward’ but it comes from the word Bolshevik – you know, Communist – and so when making the record we put a load of Russian stuff on it.
Chris: It’s a cool track this, isn’t it? It sounds very cool to me.
Neil: I’m sure we’re gonna get inundated with emails telling us the Russian’s all wrong. Not our fault!
Love is a Bourgeois Construct
Stuart: It’s sort of anthemic Pet Shop Boys music.
Chris: Particularly when you get those “whoah oh oh oh’s” thrown in for good measure.
Neil: It’s funny singing this live, which we were doing in rehearsals this week. It’s in a very different vocal range from It’s a Sin or something. It’s quite conversational. It’s quite difficult live.
Chris: Also it’s a giddy-up bass-line, which we haven’t had for a while.
Stuart: It reminded me of some sort of things that came out on Trax records from Chicago. It’s funny, it’s almost like you sort of set yourself free of that traditional intro/verse/bridge/chorus, and all of a sudden…
Chris: Well a lot of great dance music just has good bits, doesn’t it? It doesn’t bother with the rest, it just has good bits followed by good bits and it dispenses with anything boring that’s gonna get in the way, you know like…
Stuart: Like a bridge.
Chris: Like a bridge!
Inside a Dream
Chris: There’s something kind of Gothic about this.
Stuart: I think Inside a Dream is one of those tracks where the music sounds like the title. The music sounds like you paint it and you put it together with that in mind. And it begins and ends with these sort of kinda Deep House sections.
The Last to Die
Neil: Chris’s sister told Chris she’d discovered a really good Bruce Springsteen song and she thought he would like it, so we played it in the studio and immediately started doing a version of it.
Chris: It’s great though, it’s got real emotion, combined with four-on-the-floor. Bit of filter there, always a lot of filter going on.
Neil: It’s very anthemic, isn’t it?
Shouting in the Evening
Neil: There’s a quote by the British actor Michael Gambon who was asked to describe what he did for a living, and he said “Shouting in the evening!” And the lyric is actually really taken from Lionel Richie ‘Dancing on the ceiling’…”Oh what a feeling/shouting in the evening”. No really, it’s “Oh what a feeling/When you’re dancing on the ceiling”.
Stuart: It’s quite hardcore, this track. It’s the most hardcore of the tracks on the album.
Thursday ft. Example
Neil: So for ages we had a Nicki Minaj sample on this track, and then Stuart revealed he was working with Example, who is, amongst other things, a rapper.
Stuart: I think we just sort of thought it’s a slightly unexpected combination, which normally leads to something pretty good. Sometimes you go with the obvious and you end up not really getting above it. Example was just quite an unusual choice.
Neil: This was one of the first songs written for Elysium.
Chris: It’s so uplifting, I just can’t get enough of this track. So much so, it’s in the show. Also it’s nice to end the album on such an optimistic note.
Stuart: After the demo we worked on this in the studio, there was a sort of interim version, which I think we all liked, but it was just one of those situations where it wasn’t…
Chris: It was neither one thing nor the other, was it? And then on the day that the record had to be handed in, you delivered it in this form which was…
Stuart: It was one of those classic cases of homework being due in the next morning so all of a sudden the urgency makes you come up with the goods.
Chris: I mean you don’t get many lyrics like…you know, “aspirations for a better life are ordained” on a lot of dance records.
Neil: And also I have a mental picture of being on a dance floor with friends around me, probably from the early nineties, which is when I sort of imagine this record.