FundamentalFundamental

Released - 2006
Chart peak - UK #5, US #150

Released in the U.K. and many other countries in late May 2006 (but a month later in the U.S.), most of Fundamental was recorded during the spring, summer, and early autumn of 2005. Some tracks, such as "Numb," however, were recorded as early as 2003. Because producer Trevor Horn—who had previously worked with the Boys on their classics "Left to My Own Devices" and "It's Alright," among others—was at the helm, expectations were even higher than normal (if such a thing is possible) among aficionados. Even more promising was the fact that the fabulous PopJustice website declared in its review of the advance promo that Fundamental is "the first great pop album of 2006" and "the best Pet Shop Boys album since Very!" while NME (New Musical Express) said that it was "their best album for over a decade."

Statements from Neil and Chris suggested that the overall "sound" of this album would be somewhat between those of the guitar-oriented arrangements of Release and their more traditional (for them) synth-heavy, techno-oriented approach, with a strong orchestral presence as well. They also noted that they used a real, live drummer on at least some of the tracks—a true rarity for PSB studio recordings.

Neil confirmed general online fan speculation regarding the title of the album when he told interviewer Garry Mulholland for Q magazine, "It originally comes from the endless discussions of fundamentalism that we live through at the moment. As ever with an issue like that we then related it to what we do and we wanted to make an album that was very kind of electro, that was fundamentally Pet Shop Boys. It seemed to work on both levels and we like something serious that works as a joke." He also noted, "The idea behind the lyrics was to take contemporary events and put them into songs that are apparently about interpersonal relationships."

Indeed, a number of the songs have been strongly influenced by the post-9/11 world and the ensuing "war on terror," providing what is for the Pet Shop Boys an unusually large measure of sociopolitical commentary. It's not at all inaccurate to describe Fundamental as their most political album. It's also an album haunted by the twin spectres of fear and death, visually signified by the dark design motif of its graphics. Even Neil and Chris themselves are dressed all in black, with Neil particularly drawing attention for adopting a look that various commentators have found suggestive of a nineteenth-century undertaker.

A special limited edition of the album feaatured a bonus disc titled Fundamentalism. In addition to remixes of several of the parent album's tracks, it also offered the at-that-time otherwise unavailable "Fugitive." (For the other "non-Fundamental" song on the bonus disc, "In Private," see the section for the album Format.)

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Bonus track: