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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Intelligent Disco Is No Oxymoron: Bring on the Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys "Bilingual" (Parlophone)


The Pet Shop Boys are more than a band, they are a one-band style, called Intelligent Disco. New dance styles come and go, be it raga, trip-hop, or gangsta rap, but the Pet Shop Boys are still doing exactly what they've been doing for 10 years with the same success. "Bilingual" is as clever, ironic, occasionally sad and always perfectly danceable as it should be. Boys will be Boys.





J.J. Cale "Guitar Man" (Delabel)


J.J. Cale, the author of "After Midnight" and "Cocaine," is as institutionalized as the Pet Shop Boys, but he's tried to introduce some new sounds on the opening track of his new album. But apart from "Death in the Wilderness," the album is classic J.J. -- pure, laid-back country-blues, sung by one of the warmest voices in pop music.


So if your heat still doesn't work, "Guitar Man" may come to the rescue.





Dead Can Dance "Spiritchaser" (4 AD)


No jumpin' jive here, but plenty of other delights from Africa, India, the Middle East, Latin America and Medieval Europe -- all melded into a New Age sound. The British duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are famous for creating a surprisingly organic mix of assorted ethnic influences with classical and rock music. Their music is seriously spiritual without being boring.





Proschay Molodost "Pesni Vzroslykh Malchikov" (Soyuz)


The duo of Andrei Yakushin and Sergei Taunenbaum, aptly named "Farewell to Youth" (a term that is also a popular moniker for old people's winter boots) was sadly underrated 10 years ago. In the days of perestroika energy and glasnost enthusiasm, the group's ironic semi-parody of decadent pre-Revolutionary Russian crooners sounded completely out of time and out of place.


Not surprisingly, nowadays, when post-modernism rules, their tongue-in-cheek sarcasm sounds much more appropriate. Unfortunately, nearly half of their recordings have been ruined by adding "updated" electronic arrangements to the original piano plus vocals formula.


Still, most of the record sounds fresh and retro-stylish. It's a pity that Farewell to Youth actually said farewell to their audiences about eight years ago.





Fireside "Do Not Tailgate" (American)


Although they appear on the American label, Fireside is actually a Swedish group. They play solid, fast, punkish-but-clean rock. I hope they'll get some kind of a following so that someone will buy their records, because they're good. But most probably, no one will.





Pascal Comelade "Musique Pour Films, Vol. 2" (Delabel)


Monsieur Comelade is a lunatic or a genius -- depending on your point of view -- who lives as a recluse in the Pyrenees and writes music performed on party and toy instruments. The sound is naive and beautiful, occasionally weird and frightening, a quality that has prompted some critics to compare Comelade's works with "Alice in Wonderland." I have to admit that most of his albums sound pretty much the same, but I remain endlessly enchanted by the man's aural imagination.