Pet Shop Boys’ 13th album, ‘Super’

Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page By Maura Johnston Globe Correspondent  March 31, 2016 For 3½ decades, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, collectively known as Pet Shop Boys, have honed a version of dance music that’s both all-encompassing and at a remove, social music for misfits that occasionally bubbled up to top-40 playlists — the keenly observant “West End Girls” hit No. 1 in 1986, while the wrenching Dusty Springfield collab “What Have I Done to Deserve This” reached No. 2. The British duo has persisted and triumphed musically by anticipating and incorporating dance-music trends in such a way that keeps their serious-yet-blissed-out aesthetic intact; Tennant’s voice has a surface-level clippedness about it, but the occasional wobble he lets slip reveals the wildly running emotions underneath — feelings that can only be worked out in the communal space of the dancefloor.“Super,” Pet Shop Boys’ 13th album, has some pure-pop highlights. The synth stomp “Groovy” combines house piano and monstrous chords under Tennant’s center-of-attention pronouncements, punctuated by cheers. “The Pop Kids,” a lost-youth requiem, bounces along on visions of better days and an arms-wide-open chorus, punctuated by a wistful “I loved you.” The synth pulses that propel the swirling “Undertow” bring to mind a drowsier version of Black Box’s early-’90s house-pop hit, “Everybody Everybody.”What drives “Super,” though, is the duo’s overarching vision, which helps the album flow together like a night at a club: one that Pet Shop Boys exist inside and above, simultaneously. The pounding VIP-section treatise “Inner Sanctum” best sums up this outlook: It twists and turns, its ominous, bass-heavy beat occasionally dropping out in a way Continue Reading

Erasure prove they’re not just the Pet Shop Boys’ uncool cousins – Hammersmith Apollo, review

4 Erasure have surely done enough to leave an indelible mark on British pop. “We’ve got lots of lovely songs for you tonight, spanning 32 years,” announced frontman Andy Bell at the start of a set about as hit-packed as a Now That’s What I Call Cheesy Synth Pop compilation. Since the duo formed in 1985, Erasure have scored 34 top 40 hits. They may not trouble the singles charts much anymore but there has been no noticeable decline in quality across 16 studio albums, selling over 25 million records worldwide. Last year’s luxurious, emotional offering World Be Gone reached number six in the UK albums chart. When you consider that instrumentalist Vince Clarke was also founding songwriter of Depeche Mode (Just Can’t Get Enough), Yazoo (Only You) and The Assembly (Never Never), there is a case for Clarke being the great unsung songwriter of the electro generation.  There is, nonetheless, something a bit uncool about Erasure. They are like the Pet Shop Boys' slightly gauche cousins, with all the plush synths and earworm melodies but little of the artistic conceptualism and ironic wit. A set design of gaudy geometric light tubes and raised DJ platform invoked a high street disco circa 1980. Bald, besuited and unsmiling on his podium, adding minimal instrumental flourishes to what are essentially pre-recorded backing tracks, Clarke played straight man to Bell’s panto dame. “I've been practising with my makeup,” claimed Bell. “When in doubt, stick your head in a bucket of glitter.” Kohl eyed and sparkly, in ill-fitting brocaded jacket and colourful tattoo tights, he looked like a drag artist who had been dragged through a fancy dress wardrobe. "The look I was going for is Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra with a bit of Mrs Slocombe thrown in,” he joked (invoking the vain saleswoman from camp comedy classic Are You Being Served). Bell discarded clothing as the set proceeded, Continue Reading

Pet Shop Boys set to return to Royal Opera House

Pet Shop Boys will return to London's Royal Opera House for four 'Inner Sanctum' shows this summer. The synthpop duo - comprised of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe - previously completed a residency at the iconic venue in 2016 and, due to demand, they will back playing their biggest hits between July 25 and July 28. The pair said: "We were thrilled to bring electronic music into the grandest musical space in London for four memorable nights in 2016. Since then we've often been asked if we're planning a return to the Royal Opera House and we're excited to confirm that we'll be back in July." Neil and Chris first met in 1981 and went on to have 22 Top 10 singles and 13 Top 10 studio albums. Their biggest hits include, 'Vocal', 'Sodom & Gomorrah', 'It's A Sin', 'Left To My Own Devices', 'West End Girls', 'Domino Dancing' and 'Always On My Mind'. In 2017, Pet Shop Boys received the Godlike Genius gong at the NME Awards. Speaking of the honour - which was passed down to former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher this year - Neil said: "Little did I know when I started reading the NME as a child in the mid-60s, that one day we would stand here as an electronic duo getting such a magnificent award. "Our career has been such a huge collaboration with producers, programmers, remixers and I would just like to thank every one of them - and accept this on behalf of electronic music, dance music and shiny pop music. Thank you very much." Tickets for 'Inner Sanctum' will be limited to four per person. Ticket prices range from £35 - £110 and are available from 1pm on Feb 28 from Continue Reading

Concert review: Pet Shop Boys rock NYC’s Beacon Theatre, show dance music at its smartest

The Pet Shop Boys like to keep their distance. At the first of two concerts at the Beacon Theatre, held Monday, the synth-pop pioneers played the initial four numbers behind a sheer curtain, camouflaging them while distracting the audience with elaborate video projections. In later numbers they blinded viewers with shooting lasers and darting lights, while other set pieces placed dancers in the stars' position. Throughout, musician Chris Lowe kept his mouth sternly shut and his eyes shielded behind shades. It's an apt approach for music that has always seesawed between the aloof and the urgent. At once, The Pet Shop Boys' songs have the immediacy of dance music and the remove of intellectual pop. Likewise, Neil Tennant's vocals balance the arch with the sweet, while his lyrics use cynicism to deflect from very real needs that lurk below. It's a mix that has made PSB one of dance-pop's most complex bands, as well as one of the most oddly enjoyable. The chance to spy them live has always been a rare affair. The Beacon shows represent their first in the city in four years. They served to toast the group's latest CD, "Electric," whose name also graces the tour. Even so, the set list included just four songs from that disc. It boasted many lesser known tracks from their thirty year catalogue, though it did make room, in its hour-and-40 minute expanse, for just enough of their greatest hits, from “Domino Dancing” to “Always On My Mind.” The Pet Shop Boys’ live presentation has always required a major dressing up. They need the studio the capture the richness and depth of their arrangements, as well as to soften Tennant’s live nasality. More, the guys don’t move comfortably around a stage. That, as much as anything, explains the theatricality of their presentations. “Electric” hardly rates as their most elaborate production, though it did make clever use of huge back projections, two versatile dancers, Continue Reading

Everyone old — Stones, Madonna,  Beach Boys, Black Sabbath — has something new for 2012

Need more proof we’ve got an aging population on our hands? The likeliest headline-making music stories of 2012 favor geezers to a staggering degree. All signals indicate the Rolling Stones will tour to celebrate their — yes, folks — 50th anniversary this year, while The Beach Boys have already committed to a roadshow for their golden toast. The California boys plan to hit the road by spring, with all the surviving original members on board (even Brian), buttressed by their first album of new material in decades. For a 50th-anniversary trifecta, the titans of Irish traditional music, the Chieftains, will commemorate their own half-century mark with a new album and tour this winter. To mark the 40th anniversary of he Doors’ “L.A. Woman,” the three surviving band members plan to reissue that disk with a never-before released song from its seminal sessions, under the unpromising title “She Smells So Nice.” Not only will another four decade-old band — Black Sabbath — hit the road with their original line-up this year, they’ll feature that configuration on their first studio work together in over 30 years. But wait, the codger parade doesn’t end there. Bruce Springsteen, 62, will tour this year, in his first road show since the death of Clarence Clemons, with a new album due out this year as well. Paul McCartney, 69, will issue a fresh disk in February, covering the songs that first influenced him. Carole King, for her 70th birthday, will publish her long-awaited autobiography, titled, of course, “A Natural Woman.” Leonard Cohen, who turns 78 in 2012, issues his first album of new songs in eight years in February — around the same time seminal Detroit rocker Mitch Ryder, 66, releases his first new studio material in three decades. For local history: The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, which booked many of the same bills as the Fillmore East in the Continue Reading

ISSUING FORTH. Pet Shop Boys make a topical impression in a sea of dance beats

According to Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant, "pop songs have only two things to say - 'All you need is love' or 'F- you. ' " You'll find a lot more of the latter than the former on the Boys' new album, "Fundamental. " But it's amazing what a range of subjects the Boys manage to fit under that dismissive sentiment. In its 11 songs, the disk muses on the soul-eroding vapidity of 24-hour TV news, the perverse attraction humans have for fear, the psychological relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair, the fate of Casanova, the hypocrisies of the immigration issue and, oh yes, a summation of every defining tragedy of the 20th century. Not bad for a disco album. Then again, it's always been the Pet Shop Boys' genius, and oddity, to match lowdown dance beats to the most elevated subject matter imaginable. From their perky early smashes in the '80s ("West End Girls," "What Have I Done to Deserve This? ") to their elegant cult songs of the last few years, the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe has blurred the lines between the club, pop and literary worlds in unprecedented, and wily, ways. The pair's latest album, its first in three years, ranks as by far their most political work to date. Many of the songs focus on the ever-increasing ­tendency of the government to snoop into our lives. As Tennant explains, "We ­wanted to make electro-pop,but we also want to capture the world we inhabit at the moment. We're looking at all our liberties being eroded. At this point, we take for granted that there are video cameras watching us on every street. And in Britain, we have ID cards that are linked to a central database that has all this information on us that it shares with the U. S. "Whatever happened to privacy? " Tennant asks. "In that sense, this is a protest album - for the individual. " Thankfully, it's more than just that. For all the duo's lofty intent, "­Fundamental" is sensual, catchy, funny and, as ­usual, beat-obsessed. Continue Reading

Pennsylvania pizza shop robbed of 100 candy bars, eight cookies

A Pennsylvania pizza shop was robbed but instead of cash or pizza, all they made off with was dessert. Lauri Corklin, owner of Corky's II pizza shop in Pleasantville, told the Daily News thieves broke into her business overnight Friday but all she could find missing was 100 candy bars and eight chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, she said. "It is kind of funny," she said. "I'm glad that's all they got when they broke in." Corklin has owned the business for the past 20 years and said this is the third break-in the past three years. The first time they took cash and the second time nothing was taken. They didn't even take anything to drink. She said she made sure money could not be taken from the store again and when the burglars arrived they rummaged through the store and made a mess, she said. But they didn't find any dough. The suspects did take the 100 chocolate bars that were left in boxes behind the counter. The bars were sold for $1 each as a fundraiser for the Titusville High School boys' basketball team, she said. The cookies were baked in the store and kept in plastic bags. But there was no pizza to steal since the business throws out its leftover pies at night, Corklin said. "They didn't even take anything to drink," she quipped. Pennsylvania state police are investigating the incident and Corklin hopes the perpetrators are juveniles who will get caught. "It's just become a joke (around town)," she said. "Hopefully they will say something and we can catch them." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

WATCH: Michigan family surprised to learn baby girl is really a boy

A Michigan baby wasn't even born yet before he started to mess with his parents. Kyle and Danielle Williams, of Belleville, Mich., were told they were having a girl, but when the couple's second child was delivered March 3, they quickly realized they had to go shopping again. “My wife has been collecting baby clothes and has been adding to our girls’ clothing collection,” Kyle Williams told the Daily News. “But we knew the baby would be staying in our room for the first few months so we didn’t set up the nursery yet, thankfully.” But they decided to have some fun with the news and filmed various relatives finding out the news in a hilarious online video. They had decided to name their daughter Charlee and asked Danielle’s mother to change the infant’s diaper. She noticed right away. If this is the right baby do Kyle and Danielle know it’s a boy? "Well Charles welcome to the world!" she exclaimed after the shock wore off. "You little stinker, oh my goodness." Kyle Williams, 32, said his mother-in-law was in complete shock and later admitted the thoughts that went through her mind. “The first thing that popped into her mind was ‘Oh my God, is this the right baby?’” Kyle Williams said. “And then, it was ‘If this is the right baby do Kyle and Danielle know it’s a boy?’” Before being told it was a girl during an October ultrasound the parents had decided on a name for whether they had a boy or girl. So when they introduced their 2-year-old daughter Peyton to her new sibling they told her his name was Bentley. That’s when Kyle Williams panned the camera to his father who begins to visibly digest the new information. "Not a very good ultrasound," he jokes. The technician that performed it told them at the time she saw the baby with his legs spread apart and was Continue Reading

California boy, 4, bitten by rattlesnake on popular walking path

A 4-year-old California boy is lucky to be alive after he stepped on a rattlesnake on a family trip to get ice cream. Little Vinnie Camarazza’s foot ballooned and the tot spent two days in the hospital after he was bitten as he walked along a popular trail in Folsom, KTXL reported. Vinnie, his parents and some friends were heading to a local ice cream shop when the 4-year-old stepped on what he thought was a pile of dog poop. Mom Jaclyn Camarazza, walking several feet behind her boy, heard him start to cry — and then noticed the brown pile start to slither away. The nine-months-pregnant mother ripped off his shoes and saw two marks where the snake’s fangs had bitten into her son’s foot. That’s when her “mama bear instinct” kicked in, she said. "I must've watched some sort of Western back in the day and I thought sucking the venom sounded like a very smart idea," she told KCRA. "I started sucking the venom out and spitting it out.” Experts said the spitting tactic was a bad idea: The venom could have spread to Camarazza or her unborn baby. A friend on the scene even warned her to leave the wound alone. “I'm looking and I'm thinking, ‘You're going to lose him.’ So you get that moment where you want to trade places and you panic,” she said. Vinnie’s parents rushed him to a hospital, where doctors gave him a hefty dose of antivenom and monitored him for two days. The massive swelling in his foot has gone down as he recovers at home. The Camarazzas said they’ll pay more attention when hiking now, even when it's through popular, well-traveled trails like the one between their home and the ice cream parlor. “We went through 48 hours where it felt like a lifetime,” Camarazza said. “You're just so happy to be home and out of the hospital.” There have been 63 reported rattlesnake Continue Reading

Long Island Santeria shop owner admits to sexually abusing teen employee, trying to have him killed

A Long Island owner of a Santeria shop admitted Tuesday he sexually abused an employee — and then tried to hire someone to kill the teen. Daniel Miller, 47, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual abuse, conspiracy and other charges after admitting drugging and sexually abusing the 17-year-old boy, who worked for him at a Santeria religious supply store in Inwood. Prosecutors say Miller, while in jail, offered to pay $15,000 to have the victim killed and make it look like a robbery. Miller also asked a relative to make a Voodoo doll and stick it with pins and knives in an effort to give the teen cancer. The sick store owner is expected to be sentenced in June to nine years in prison. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading