The Pet Shop Boys produce absolutely disposable pop, and that's meant as a compliment. Introspective isn't a "new album" in the classic rock sense (only six extended cuts), but so what? This isn't a companion piece or follow-up to the glum duo's previous records: it's more like a replacement part.
The album is a quick survey course in the last year's disco trends. A remix of the previously released single "Always on My Mind" is seeped in the monolithic sound of Chicago house music, and the current single, "Domino Dancing," features a salsa-flavored piano break amid the synthesized heel clicks of Latin hip-hop. Nevertheless, the Pet Shop Boys can't help sounding instantly identifiable and essentially British above all else. Take "Domino Dancing": despite all those Latin samples, Chris Lowe's languid synth lines and Neil Tennant's wan, somewhat nasal vocals combine in a hook that uncannily recalls Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat." Nobody in his right mind would do that on purpose.
Tennant's latest batch of deadpan meditations on modern-day love and disaffection ("Left to My Own Devices," "I Want a Dog," the ominous "I'm Not Scared") are custom fit to his wry, talky delivery. But when he actually tries to sing on the cover of Sterling Void's dance-floor hit "It's Alright," his vocal limitations become obvious. Introspective may be a fleeting pleasure at best, but by the time it's absorbed and forgotten, the next Pet Shop Boys record will be due. (RS 540)
(Posted: Dec 1, 1988)
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