Three years since Electric, Tennant and Lowe re-team with career Viagra Stuart Price, but whereas their last collaboration sounded more forward-thinking that anything else in their CV – stick it on there, you’d still think it’s been sent back from twenty years in the future – Super finds the trio mostly looking back over sounds and genres already dominated.
‘The Pop Kids’ is an obvious one, harking on about a misspent youth in London, coupled with some great 90’s house piano and pounding synths, and proved to be a great choice for the first single. Where they go next is anyone’s guess, though: maybe the Roisin Murphy-esque italo-disco bangers of ‘Pazzo!’ or ‘Undertow’, or maybe the cheeky Mediterranean twinge of ‘Twenty-Something’, or even the sinister, cavernous soundscape likes of ‘Inner Sanctum’.
It’s not just the sounds that feel like they’re getting revisited, though. ‘The Dictator Decides’ finds the lads returning to that political bent, singing of sons replacing their fathers in positions of power and lonely men wanting to give it all up for a nice relaxing holiday, ditto with ‘Into Thin Air’ – ‘Too much ugly talking / too many politicians / we need some more dreamers / and some more magicians’ – and both feature that on-the-nose lyricism that you either already love or hate them for.
Towards the end of the album, it does finally feel like they’ve quit looking back and plant their feet firmly in the present, facing the future. ‘Say It To Me’ is pure four-on-the-floor, Ibiza-checklist euphoria EDM that gives Calvin Harris or David Guetta a run for their money. ‘Burn’ is one long, pulsating techno party starter that is impossible not to nod vigorously along to. Then there’s ‘Sad Robot World’, which is one part Kraftwerk, one part Röyksopp, and yet entirely Pet Shop Boys – primarily by not being a metaphor, it’s actually a song about sad, lonely robots.
Price has performed career CPR on acts before – Madonna with Confessions On A Dancefloor, Take That with Progress, Kylie with Aphrodite – and while he already brought PSB back to life with Electric, Super finds them celebrating what’s come before, before re-embracing what’s to come next with open arms. It’s all there in the opening track ‘Happiness’ – the off-kilter country-style vocal delivery, the old-school house sounds, mixed with cutting edge production. This is Pet Shop Boys’ love letter to themselves, and there’s a lot here to love.