Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot

'Hotspot' — the last of the Stuart Price trilogy

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

Album facts

Release Date: January 24th 2020
Label: x2 Records
Genre: , ,
Discogs: Link
Partially sounds like: Erasure

'Hotspot' was mainly writ­ten and recor­ded in Berlin and Los Angeles. It con­tains ten brand new Tennant & Lowe tracks, includ­ing the pre­vi­ously released single 'Dreamland' with Years & Years and the track 'Burning The Heather' with Bernard Butler on gui­tar. The album was pro­duced and mixed by Stuart Price and it is the third part of the tri­logy pro­duced by Price, which star­ted in 2013 with 'Electric' and the second part 'Super' was released in 2016.

Pet Shop Boys say about their album: "We've writ­ten much of our music over the last ten years in Berlin and it was an excit­ing exper­i­ence to work on this album in the legendary Hansa stu­di­os there and add a new dimen­sion to our sound."

The sound of the 20s century

Like a futur­ist­ic, epic opera, the first sounds of the new album 'Hotspot' come out of the speak­ers in a punchy way. The drums kick in, the har­mo­ni­ous melody starts and you are imme­di­ately hooked into the typ­ic­al 'Pet Shop Boys' groov­i­ness. New but famil­i­ar from the start. After the fant­ast­ic album 'Super' the open­er 'Will O The Wisp' is a great start for the grand finale of the Stuart Price tri­logy. A great up-tempo song with a catchy chor­us and ener­get­ic beats.

'You Are The One' begins with bird twit­ter­ing and romantic tunes. A shal­low piano melody and a soft wave float­ing from the left to the right chan­nel and back quickly make you day­dream. In terms of ton­al­ity, the track strongly reminds of the song 'Only One' from the album 'Nightlife'. Compare it your­self and write your opin­ion in the com­ments below.

'Happy People' starts with a cool retro Synthwave vibe before we are trans­por­ted into the typ­ic­al Piano 90s Electropop sound world. A fant­ast­ic move by the British guys. The sound of the song is really good fun, the mes­sage of the lyr­ics is rather ser­i­ous, but we know that from the 'Pet Shop Boys'. In my opin­ion, he is one of the strongest on the album.

Happy people liv­ing in a sad world, happy people liv­ing in a sad world …
Lyrics from 'Happy People' by Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys 2020 (Credit: Phil Fisk)
Pet Shop Boys 2020 (Credit: Phil Fisk)

Electronic Pop pearls

The first release 'Dreamland (Feat. Years & Years)' should already be known to most people. A great Electropop song that is bey­ond com­pare. Amazing catchy sound and ready for the next cen­tury. Lyrically, it is obvi­ously about the tragedy and the hope of the refugees to Europe. The lyr­ic­al mel­an­choly is here again excel­lently integ­rated and very subtly used. Showing empathy for oth­er people and see­ing the world through oth­er eyes is the state­ment here. As fluffy and light as the song sounds, it makes you feel a little bit sad when you listen to it.

After the first quick run, I had giv­en the track 'Hoping For A Miracle' only 3.5 stars. A fatal mis­judge­ment on my part. After listen­ing to it with head­phones and in a relaxed atmo­sphere, the song really touched me emo­tion­ally. The song's son­ic as well as lyr­ic­al is incred­ibly multi-layered. The song drags itself for­ward only very slug­gishly. Between the verse and the chor­us, there are won­der­ful acous­tic stops integ­rated which intensi­fy the feel­ing of iner­tia. A won­der­ful song that you eas­ily under­es­tim­ate at first hearing.

You hop­ing for a mir­acle, with no thought of surrender
Lyrics from 'Hoping For A Miracle' by Pet Shop Boys

Beautiful elec­tron­ic­ally it con­tin­ues with the song 'I Don't Wanna'. A real Synth Pop high­light on the album 'Hotspot'. A groovy mid-tempo song with pretty weird sound­ing synth sounds and cool robot voices in the bridge. Every now and then you can hear a 60's organ which gives the sound a nice twist and phon­et­ic warmth. I love this song and would like to have a single release.

A trilogy comes to an end

The song 'Monkey Business' is such a super cool song with smooth beats and an ultra-strong vocoder dis­tor­ted vocals in the bridge to act like a big shot. Even the back­ground sing­ers let the big stage hang out. And of course, the entire elec­tron­ic con­struc­tion fits per­fectly with the lyr­ics. Good job!

Another won­der­ful song is the num­ber 'Only The Dark'. Lyrically infused with fant­ast­ic meta­phors includ­ing a touch of mel­an­choly and hope. The tempo changes clearly bring dynam­ics into the song and don't let it become a mono­ton­ous bal­lad. A beau­ti­ful song to dream and lose your­self in thoughts.

Don't be scared for only the dark can show you the stars
Lyrics from 'Only The Dark' by Pet Shop Boys

The bal­lad 'Burning The Heather' brings us back down to earth with a dark atmo­sphere. With acous­tic gui­tar, chimes and later trum­pets, the Pet Shop Boys cre­ate a dense ten­sion of sad­ness, self-pity and comfort.

Hot or not?

With the album 'Hotspot' the 'Pet Shop Boys' have done everything right. For a 'Pet Shop Boys' fan, the ques­tion of buy­ing it doesn't even arise. All oth­er Electropop lov­ers should def­in­itely, but above all, listen to it with enough time to enjoy it.

I enjoyed the album with head­phones and a glass of good whis­key. 'Hotspot' is cer­tainly one of the strongest Electropop albums in 2020 and I strongly recom­mend buy­ing it.

By the way, this album also made it into our art­icle 'The best Synth Pop and genre-related albums 2020'. Read now.

Track By Track Rating

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot
Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot
Will O The Wisp
You Are The One
Happy People
Dreamland (Feat. Years & Years)
Hoping For A Miracle
I Don't Wanna
Monkey Business
Only The Dark
Burning The Heather
Wedding In Berlin
Recommend
Will O The Wisp
Happy People
I Don't Wanna
Weak
(Nothing to report here)
4.2
Hot Electropop

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Founder
  1. My favor­ite track is "Only the Dark". Happy People and I Don't Wanna are also enjoy­able. Very funny the inclu­sion of Mendelssohn's Wedding March in the last track. Remember that the B‑sides will be bet­ter than the album tracks. Greetings from Argentina!

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Will O The Wisp
You Are The One
Happy People
Dreamland (Feat. Years & Years)
Hoping For A Miracle
I Don't Wanna
Monkey Business
Only The Dark
Burning The Heather
Wedding In Berlin
Final Score