Pet Shop Boys
Hotspot


3.5
great

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
January 25th, 2020 | 21 replies


Release Date: 01/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The final part of the Stuart Price trilogy...

By the end of their melodic, mid-tempo driven phase developed during the ‘00s up to 2012, Pet Shop Boys accumulated quite a weight on their shoulders that was dragging them down. They often sunk in introspective thoughts and political themes, while struggling to maintain their music fresh and interesting. Aging in the pop genre usually marks as a career end, being fazed by passing trends and younger artists, so the duo decided to shed those fears and just have fun again. This is why 2013’s Electric ended up as their most enjoyable ride of the last 20 years. The two brought back the early ‘90s techno, house and Hi-NRG blend that rejuvenated them and fans too. The “electronic purist” trilogy started by recording with Stuart Price in Berlin continued with 2016’s Super. While indulging in the clubbing atmosphere, they also ventured in few other subdued directions. Overall, it felt a tad more diluted than its predecessor, however, it’s still a good, fun listen.

As the final part, Hotspot gradually puts the party to an end, presenting us the come down too. Tracks such as ‘Will-O-the-Wisp’, ‘Happy People’ or ‘Dreamland’ continue to display powerful grooves, competing with the band’s highlights of last decade. The former is one of the strongest tunes here, focusing on more aggressive beats and synthesizer chords, while Neil’s lyrics talk about a promiscuous old flame (to put it nicely). His attitude and poignant voice fits very well the pummeling rhythms. Meanwhile, ‘Happy People’ focuses on pumping kicks and breezy synth pads, whereas the mix of spoken verses and angelic sung choruses is hypnotizing. Moreover, ‘Dreamland’, another excellent cut, featuring Olly Alexander (Years & Years) describes a utopian paradise where the fun never ends. The collaboration is beautiful as the front men meld their voices seamlessly. The music sounds glorious as well, boasting multiple familiar elements of the genre without feeling outdated or tepid. George Michael would be proud. Then, the sassy ditty, ‘I Don’t Wanna’ follows with its playful keyboard leads and bright, electric disco bass notes. It makes for a smooth transition towards the more subdued part of the LP that sets in sooner than it should.

Similar to a Sunday morning, with a despising hangover, ‘Hoping for a Miracle’ brings you back to the less enticing reality. Its subject is the anguish an unfulfilled life can cause. You can be destined for success and major accomplishments on many levels, still, it doesn’t mean it will automatically happen. ‘Burning the Heather’ shares themes of loneliness and time passing by, thus aging. I believe the song would have had more impact had it been a couple of minutes shorter. On the other side, ‘You Are the One’ and ‘Only the Dark’ have a brighter tone, yet they were not both necessary on the album. They are somewhat bland and don’t boost Hotspot in any way. Same goes for the closing number, ‘Wedding in Berlin’, where the lyrics ended up quite lazy. The music is not sub par and lifts the record a bit from the more low-key latter half, but Neil could have written something more thoughtful for the occasion.

Despite its flaws, Hotspot deserves its place on the upper shelf of Pet Shop Boys’ discography. It’s the most complete journey from this Stuart Price trilogy, although not the most rewarding to be honest (the spot still belongs to Electric). Even so, it’s admirable how the duo manage to be this consistent and have removed all signs of rust lately. There is a certain degree of nostalgia in the lyrics and music, however, you don't have to get swallowed by it and miss the fun you can have. It mustn't be an overwhelming feeling that should drag you down even if you’re not young anymore. For those who haven’t bothered with the pop veterans since their golden days, I encourage you to grab these last three albums and rediscover them.



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user ratings (20)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2020


5012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

While a great album, I feel like it could have been better.



Stream it here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7YB2OH9aAQ&list=OLAK5uy_kRd0CNwsTGa3R8S0dzwi3I1wrsyC4SceI



Monkey Business (official video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPx8P8pcrdA

Digging: Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2020


8691 Comments


Excellent review Raul, gonna stream the album out of curiosity.

I wonder if the album title is a tacit pun to immigrant concentration camps across Europe.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2020


5012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you. It wouldn't be a surprise to be honest.

XyphDryne
January 25th 2020


12 Comments


Thanks for the enjoyable review. Had this one in my mail today and will check it out tomorrow.

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2020


154 Comments


a bit of a surprise considering that EP they put out about a year ago was dreadful

Digging: Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind

oltnabrick
January 26th 2020


39048 Comments


this isnt better though

Digging: Xanman - Hey Shootah Vol. 2

SlothcoreSam
January 26th 2020


1749 Comments


This is better.
https://perkie.bandcamp.com/album/i-let-myself-die-to-live-again

Digging: The Suicide Machines - Revolution Spring

Cayit
January 26th 2020


23 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best Album since YES.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2020


5012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, Agenda was meh at best, but this one is far better.

rodrigo90
January 26th 2020


6036 Comments


If you are responsible for the PSB albums why you didn't review super?

Kopkiwi
January 26th 2020


45 Comments


I've listened through once, but I'm really enjoying it's really upbeat tunes.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2020


5012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm wondering now why haven't I paid more attention to Super when it came out. Also, why did it ended up with that low rating.

rodrigo90
January 27th 2020


6036 Comments


Because in this fucking site, nobody cares for the PSB.

I'm starting to think that the users here are homophobic because Neil is gAy

zakalwe
January 27th 2020


30352 Comments


and shite

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2020


5012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't know how many younger generations have got into Pet Shop Boys. They haven't catered to them and more recent trends (which isn't a bad thing). Plus, Neil's upper middle English style writing isn't the most accessible either (I like it, it's a trademark of theirs). Still, I believe a lot of the users on Sputnikmusic are not fans of this particular type of electronic music.

bloc
January 31st 2020


60199 Comments


This is so damn good

gryndstone
February 4th 2020


1469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will o' the Wisp is a certified bop

gryndstone
February 4th 2020


1469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The last half of this is really good!! A lot better than Super, that's for sure

bloc
February 4th 2020


60199 Comments


Although Super has Inner Sanctum, this album overall is definitely way better than Super agreed. I haven't heard Electric and Yes in a while, but this one could be just as good.

XyphDryne
February 6th 2020


12 Comments


So far I am bit underwhelmed. Especially the repetition of "Will o the wisp" makes the song hard to listen. Oh and the final track sucks baaaallls. Jeez. But ok, will give it some more spins.



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