The speed at which Pet Shop Boys planned to release their 12th album – just ten months after Elysium – had been teased, but largely caught even the most attentive of fans off-guard. Issued in the summer of 2013, the Electric album was in part a consequence of its predecessor’s more measured pace. “When we decided to make Elysium into a reflective-sounding album, we always knew we had quite a few much more uptempo dance songs and that there would be a dance album following it, possibly quite soon,” vocalist Neil Tennant explained to Literally, then the duo’s fan magazine.
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The backstory: A determined club record, abandoning moderation
What emerged as Electric was the first of a well-received trilogy of studio projects helmed by Stuart Price, who had first made his name as a member of Les Rythmes Digitales and then gone on to produce megahits with Madonna (Confessions On A Dance Floor), The Killers (Day And Age) and Kylie Minogue (Aphrodite). Electric speaks to that pedigree and is a determined club record, abandoning the more moderated balance of pop and dance music Pet Shop Boys had navigated on all of their studio album’s from 1986’s Please to date.
The songs: “Probably the most euphoric piece of music we’ve ever produced”
Tennant would describe Electric’s launch song, Axis, as a “sort of single”, reasoning that radio would steer clear of its hedonistic intensity. He was right. The track, which Chris Lowe says was partly inspired by an Italo-disco club night in Berlin, is strong. “It’s a very rare occasion of us writing a song after we’ve been out to dinner and to a club, because we normally work daytime and this was a night-time writing experience,” he said. As opening statements go, Axis was certainly on the money.