A new Pet Shop Boys record usually contains few surprises: The English duo is known for its one-word titles, minimalist covers, high-concept videos and beautiful songs. Their most recent work, "Yes," is no exception to this winning formula.
Maybe it’s because of their amazingly high standards, but how Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe manage to come up with an interesting record every time is not well appreciated by most listeners, even by the band’s most diehard fans.
Among pop bands, the Pet Shop Boys are almost one of a kind with their long career, consistently producing good albums and staying relevant in a genre that is intrinsically focused on the next big thing, constantly assuming that what was cool a year ago is so pass now.
Spending 25 years ruling pop music is almost an oxymoron, but that is the reality for the Pet Shop Boys, who are part of a very small minority in that sense, akin to Madonna or Depeche Mode. So, saying that the Pet Shop Boys may be pop music’s answer to the Rolling Stones is hardly an overstatement.
When asked how the band feels about being a hit factory for quarter of a century, Lowe avoids any big talk. "It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long," he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a phone interview. "Being still around after all those yearsÉ What can I say? We were lucky. That was what we dreamed about years ago, and we are lucky for achieving that."
The synthesizer master also declined to offer a simple formula for his group’s success. "What was the secret? We are asked about it often, but I don’t know, we love pop music and love the possibilities it has," he said. "Songs are what matter most. It is important to write songs that people can relate to and that make them feel. We always loved that, and we never got tired of it."
The emphasis on songs can be heard throughout the Pet Shop Boys’ career, and most recently on "Yes." Starting with "Love, etc.," a heartfelt mid-tempo number of the kind the band has mastered over the years, the new album promises to maintain Tennant and Lowe’s reliably high standards. The ’90s-style Euro-pop track "Did You See Me Coming?" followed by the sensitive song "Vulnerable" upholds that promise."This is a quintessential Pet Shop Boys record," Lowe said. "There are bright, positive tracks: Songs that will suit your mood if you are happy, and will uplift you if you are not."
The band worked with popular production team Xenomania on the record, a hint at one of the secrets of how the Pet Shop Boys manage to stay relevant despite ever-changing trends in pop music. Lowe explained that working with the team, which has previously collaborated with Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Girls Aloud and joined the songwriting process for the first time, gave the band a fresh attitude.
But regardless of who may have helped them on their way, the fact that the Pet Shop Boys have remained strong for a quarter of a century is mainly due to the foundations laid 25 years ago by Tennant and Lowe Ğ foundations that have created an indestructible pop dynasty.