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If you were old enough to pay attention to music in the 1980s, you know the Pet Shop Boys.
The British synth-poppers had four songs go No. 1 in the U.K. "West End Girls," "It's a Sin," "Heart" and their cover of "Always on My Mind" and were omnipresent radio staples due to other hits such as "Go West," "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"
Of course, just because the '80s ended doesn't mean Pet Shop Boys did.
"Super" was released in April and debuted at No. 3 on the U.K. Album Charts, making it the duo's 16th U.K. top-10 album. Meanwhile, the first single, "The Pop Kids," reached No. 1 on Billboard's U.S. Dance Club Charts the group's 11th such accomplishment.
Now, vocalist Neil Tennant and keyboardist/DJ Chris Lowe are launching a 20-city U.S. tour. The second show is Saturday at The Complex in Salt Lake City.
Tennant and Lowe said in an interview with London PR agent Murray Chalmers that for "Super" (and 2013's "Electric" before it), they decided to focus less on pop and more on electronica.
"[Producer Stuart Price] came over to our studio in London in July , and we listened through to everything we'd written and made a decision to go with the more electronic/dancey ones. We had ones which were more conventionally 'pop' that we decided not to put on, but maybe might be on the next album," Tennant said. "We wanted to make an album that had a very strong electronic mood all the way through it. It felt like 'Electric' had been a sort of 'rebooting' of the Pet Shop Boys, reminding ourselves that we came into this whole thing because we liked electronic music. Until this album and the previous album, we've never been electronic purists."
Given that the group has 22 top-10 U.K. hits, is listed as the "most successful duo in U.K. music history" by The Guinness Book of Records thanks to 50 million records sold worldwide, received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music in 2000, and at the 2009 BRIT Awards was presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, it's perhaps only fair to let Tennant and Lowe scratch whatever itch they have without complaint.
And they've been scratching at it for longer than even Tennant knew.
Asked when they started working on the material for "Super," the frontman said they began writing "The Pop Kids" in London in 2014, with subsequent sessions in Berlin from November 2014 to July 2015.
Lowe, however, surprised even his collaborator by revealing that the track's origins were actually three years older, as he'd come up with the basic tune one night in Munich in 2011 while PSB were on tour with the band Take That.
"Rather than go to the hotel bar for one last drink, I would switch the gear on and have a little go at writing some songs, without any thought of what they would be used for," Lowe said. "But as I was doing this one ['The Pop Kids'], I did think it was rather good so when we started writing for the album in Berlin, I dug it up."
The time spent in Germany proved influential for the Brits.
Tennant said their studio's location turned out to be highly consequential, given "that you're in a very clubby kind of place." Lowe, meanwhile, said their environs even directly influenced the album title.
"I was walking to the studio one day and I kept imagining Germans saying 'super,' because they say 'super' in a certain way 'SUPER, JA!' and they say 'super' a lot," he mused. "And I just thought 'Oh, super!' Because we'd been through a few titles, hadn't we?"
Such a light-hearted approach is hardly accidental, though.
The Pet Shop Boys are not only still making music, but making the music they want a fact that contributes to the album's celebratory tone.
"I mean, [there's a reason 'Super' is] opening with 'Happiness,' which is a sort of truthful, philosophical statement: 'It's a long way to happiness, but I'm going to get there,'" Tennant said.
Listening to the Pet Shop Boys may just get you closer to happiness, too.
When • Saturday; doors at 7 p.m.
Where • The Complex (Rockwell), 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City