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Warner Bros.


Electronic the band is an inspired collaboration between Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys and Bernard Summer of New Order. Electronic the album proves the perfect foil for Tennant's rapier lyrical wit and continually expanding musicianship.

Summer fares not quite as well, but his failure to thrive does little to take away from this polished, intelligent and very listenable album.

Tennant has always had a darkly sarcastic tone in his work, though the most recent Pet Shop Boys release, Behavior, showed a faint inclination toward mature sentimentality. Tennant's contributions to Electronic eschew even a hint of softness, relying on a half-grim half-humorous philosophy of relationships, politics and pop culture.

Electronic's best track, in fact, the best single in many a year, is the flowing, crystalline Getting Away With It, in which Tennant stoically details his acceptance of a rotten romance with the lines "I've been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose / I've been forcing myself not to forget just to feel worse." Tennant backs up his per force attitude problem with snappy rhythms and lushly orchestrated melodies.

Summer's main project, New Order, has been on the decline for several years now. His droning, whiny voice and plodding keyboard arrangements have heretofore been concealed in New Order's bombastic dance mixes, but Electronic's sparse, cool stylings leave little room for such imprecision.

Despite Summer's atrophied tracks, Electronic goes down smoothly but not blandly from start to finish. Besides Getting Away With It, other standout cuts include Idiot Country, which deals with a real pirate radio station; Get the Message, a peppy dance single; and Soviet, a glacially majestic instrumental.