After almost thirty years of music making, receiving accolades, collaborating with a multifarious selection of musicians, and pushing the boundaries of modern pop in their own inimitable way, Pet Shop Boys are still unafraid to try something different.
Enlisting the help of Brian Higgins - the mastermind behind uber-successful pop production team Xenomania (who have been responsible for some of Girls Aloud's and Sugababes' biggest hits) was a gutsy move; perhaps an admission that they need to freshen up their sound for their tenth album. Add to that ex-Smiths guitar legend Johnny Marr, and violin indie virtuoso Owen Pallett (aka Final Fantasy), and you've got the makings of a very interesting album.
It's surprising, then, that 'Yes' is a collection of songs that are enjoyable, but not as inspiring as was perhaps expected. Marr's presence is obviously felt on the guitar-weighted songs - particularly the gorgeous, old fashioned rock jangle of 'Beautiful People' - as is Higgins's on the spacey pop of 'More Than A Dream' and the smooth, slightly dull synth-pop ballad 'King of Rome'. Yet, consistent as 'Yes' is, it often feels like Messrs. Tennant and Lowe aren't using their talents as productively as they should be (the call-and-response chorus of lead single 'Love Etc' is a noted example), even though the former's lyrics are as loveably droll as ever.
The fact that the standout tracks on 'Yes' are the songs with horn flourishes, crystallised synths and heart-thumping, arm-waving beats ('Pandemonium' and meandering mini-epic 'Legacy') - i.e. their 'classic' sound, is perhaps the most revealing aspect of all. Maybe, when it comes to forging a new direction or adding some vim and vigour to their sound, Pet Shop Boys actually don't need any help at all.