I know some people coul think there is another useless thread but the thing is it was a mess to find the reviews of some forum members here, I wanted to read again. So I want to make a compilation here and you can compare different points of views.
Drico One wrote:I was offered a chance to hear the new album last week. What follows is a descriptive track-by-track review of Super. Before I continue, this does not herald a leak and I do not have files to share. So, please don't request links or send me PMs – they won't be read. You can either respect that or bitterly resent me. I'd prefer the former, but I'll live with the latter. With that out of the way, feel free to read on if you have no issue with spoilers.
Super is an ultimately rewarding but initially perplexing listening experience.
The opening track, Happiness, becomes ever-more insistent on repeat listens, but only once you get over the initial shock of Neil's country and western vocals. This, I imagine, is what attending a barn dance on acid would sound like. It's all a bit gay rodeo to my ears, but becomes much more enjoyable once the surprise wears off. In the background, Neil spells out the title of the track a la Shopping and Minimal while Stuart Price ramps up the decibels, constantly repeating the same riff – one of the by-now familiar snippets - and adding his usual builds. As an album opener, it's a little incongruous, but soon becomes an unexpected earworm. Lyrically, it's slight, with only two substantial interjections.
"It's a long way to happiness, it's a long way to go, but I'm going to get there, boy, the only way I know," chimes Neil at the start, before rounding it all off with an admission that he, and his companion, may never actually arrive at their destination, which is quite a nice thought in its own way. It's all about the journey. Sonically, that journey seems to go round in circles with each circuitous route more demented than the last. I disliked Happiness intensely on first hearing, but it's won me over in the meantime.
The Pop Kids is wonderful and a worthy single. We've all heard it by now, so I won't attempt to describe it. As a trailer of the album, its slightly inelegant rhyming structure accurately previews a recurring, and slightly jarring, motif of Super.
If the lead single directly addresses their long-standing fans, the third track, Twenty-something, tries to speak to – or, at least, about – the new breed they've picked up in more recent years. It's a jaunty plodder, contrasting the optimism and expectation of youth with grim reality. Here we find Neil in wise old observer mode. Young Offender has grown up and must now find his way "in a decadent city at a time of greed". Lyrically, it's a bit suspect, maybe even a touch patronizing in places ("You've always been somewhat choosy but you'll love her for the length of a good movie"). The structure of the song is a little frustrating with the chorus more of a descending continuation of the verses than anything else. In the end, it's all a bit depressing, with Neil advising Twenty-something to "Take your smartphone and make your way home - on your own." Like Happiness, it grows with repetition and starts to bloom, but it's a moderate album track at best despite possessing plenty of personality.
Groovy lives up to its name, and is a disco-influenced late 1990s "goodtime" track that lifts proceedings again. It's an exhibitionist's anthem, with a narcissistic chorus that goes: "Look at me, I'm just so 'look at me', I'm just so 'look at me', I'm just so groovy." It's utterly inconsequential, but it's coherent in terms of the album, and comes with some nice riffs, bells, and the usual Stuart Price build before we go back into the catchy, infectious chorus. It's essentially about going out, showing off, and having a good time. Neil is either celebrating or satirizing depending on your point of view, so it's as multi-layered as you want it to be. Annoyingly, it also comes with some "crowd noise" and what appears to be a sample from The Most Incredible Thing right at the end. If they are feeling flippant and adventurous, I could see this as a single. It's only a bit of fluff, but it's fun fluff. Enjoyable.
Things start to become slightly bizarre now. The Dictator Decides features an epic, sometimes poignant, often menacing backing track, some magnificent haunting female vocals, and a depressed Neil recounting the misery of an aging despot. "Will someone please say the unsayable? Will someone please tell me I'm wrong?" he intones, willing a revolution to relieve him of his burden. Tortured shouts, a grim sense of foreboding, and a cloak of deep melancholia drench the elongated intro before our declining anti-hero begins his monologue. We soon learn that he's a compromised figure, keeping up appearances ("Of course I'm in league with the army, it's not like I've got any choice; They officially adore me and my father before me, but gunpoint has a firm voice").
In some ways, a song like this sums up the wonderful quirkiness of Pet Shop Boys – and you only get this kind of stuff with the sainted Neil – but while I'd be more than delighted with this as a bonus track, I'm perplexed by its placement slap bang in the middle of what purports to be a party record. Then again, at this point, I'm not sure if the album is purporting to be anything other than a random collection of tracks. Even so, this is a peculiar, almost weird, inclusion.
Pazzo! feels every bit as incongruous, a largely instrumental Mr. Oizo-style interlude that vaguely reminds me of Soft Cell's Monoculture with its concomitant spoken samples. Various voices tell us "That's insane", ask "Do you want to?", and state that "You're crazy". There's a Blue Monday bass sample buried in the background but it all feels a bit pointless to me.
Inner Sanctum changes the soundscape once more, building magisterially to a giddily enthusiastic all-too-brief climax that gets cut off before it can fully satisfy. Yet, in the context of Super, it begins the most exciting segment of the album, a four-track run that hints at their familiar genius.
Undertow is an obvious single, if a little Pet Shop Boys-by-numbers. The intro, familiar to us as a snippet, comes back later in this track to euphoric and thrilling effect. The verses are strong, tell a story of a helpless and dangerous infatuation, and recount the inevitable impending doom that seems certain to result. Lyrically, it's sharp ("Save me, I can't help that I'm sinking, Help me get away; but even as I speak these words, I know I'm going to stay"). The chorus is more than serviceable, but there's an irritatingly clunky bridge that seems, like much of this album, dissonant. It's a close relative of A Face Like That, and it throbs along at a cracking pace, its bombastic stabs and adrenaline-soaked beats reflecting the dangerous excitement of our protagonist's predicament.
Sad Robot World completely changes the pace and is a very beautiful, very stark electronic tone poem. Ironically, for an album that seems to make a virtue of its high energy stompage, the best track is its slowest. This is one long gorgeous sigh, a sympathetic love song to technology where Neil observes the "mechanical ballet" of automatons. By the end, he can't help but imagine sentience ("Machinery is sighing, I thought I heard one crying"). There is a glorious backing vocal-infused middle section, and a fabulous melodic flourish at the end where BRIAN from Confused.com suddenly discovers his soul and the pain of self-awareness. Spell-binding.
Say It To Me is a good airily percussive pop song, and a potential single that recalls early 90s D:Ream. A strident Neil vocal is accompanied by some breathlessly wistful backing vocals as he explains his dilemma ("My predicament is simply this: You're an enigma even when you kiss") and demands answers from his maddeningly ambivalent lover. It's all relatively simple, but builds into a frenetic cacophony as it progresses. A beautiful haunting synthline that vaguely recalls Schiller and Heppner's I Feel You emerges half-way through to underscore the pain of it all.
Musically, Burn could almost be a pastiche of what some people think a Pet Shop Boys record sounds like. A throbbing bassline ripped straight from Heart is quickly married to hugely bombastic synth stabs reminiscent of Obsession by Animotion. Stuart Price then adds his usual dissonance before Neil arrives to set the scene. Lyrically, it's utterly naff. With a chorus of "We're going to burn this disco down before the morning comes," delivered via falsetto, I suppose you wouldn't really want anything too profound as your good taste and inhibitions are razed to the ground. Unsettlingly, I'm really not sure if this is irredeemably terrible or actually quite good, but it has definitely improved with familiarity. There's a fake stop before the end, some breathy Neil vocals ("it feels so good"), a fishwives chorus, and an unspoken sense of dread that Bonnie Tyler is about to appear at any moment, held triumphantly aloft on a sea of shirtless, gyrating Chippendales.
Into Thin Air is the final track, an escapist song of elopement featuring a mournful, orchestral opening, a percussive backing track, and a slightly whiney vocal. It's tuneful in its own way, and builds nicely as it progresses, but is a rather colourless finish to a slightly bizarre listening experience.
There's a lot to enjoy in Super, but I have to admit to feeling pretty disappointed with it on first listen. However, it grows markedly on subsequent plays as familiarity breaks down the discordance of some of the rhyming structures and soundscapes. Like Bilingual, it seems half-hearted in following through on its initial concept and becomes something of a smorgasbord of Pet Shop Boys styles. It feels like a more patchy, less-coherent Electric. Don't give up on it, though, as its variety rewards perseverance. Songs that initially appeared slight suddenly seem to flower into life and embed themselves in your consciousness. It's lovely to listen to, full of interesting quirks, familiar motifs, and sonic thrills.
Yesterday, me and two friends got the chance to listen to Super once (and a few of the tracks we liked best twice).
Drico's review is very accurate I think, although I cannot yet say if the album will grow on me.
My overall impression: the sound is very EDM. I think there's a chance of the whole album dating quite quickly. I sort of miss the PSB's own signature sound. At times, the sound almost reminded me of Justin Bieber (!).
There's indeed a few songs that are quite baffling on first listen. But happily, there's also a few songs that sound like instant classics, Undertow being the most immediate of the latter category. Undertow sounds very Italo, and actually reminded me a lot of Boys by Sabrina, but in a good way. We sang along with it as soon as the second chorus set in!
The one song me and my friends liked even better is Say it to me. Neil said in the Attitude interview he doesn't think Years & Years sound like the PSB, but the PSB definitely sound like Years & Years on Say it to me. Again, in a good way.
Sad Robot World and especially Into thin air were the only songs of the lot that moved me emotionally. I like Into thin air a bit better that Drico I think. It's quite gorgeous and nice to have song with a bit more class, warmth and depth closing the album. It's also an escapistic song, in true PSB-tradition, which in itself is nice; "We'll vanish, noone will ever know where, into thin air" (iirc)
One final stray observation: Twenty-something reminded of us Ace of Base
It's a nice song, but maybe a bit too long.
I couldn't tell you much more about the album. I don't know how the "silly songs" will grow on me. I didn't like Bolshy and Bourgeois when I first heard them, and I've grown to love them (especially Bolshy), so I will reserve judgement on the likes of Happiness and Groovy until I've had the chance to give Super a few more spins.
I'm still very excited for the album to come out and to be able to explore it in depth!