All-Time Albums: #73

Electronic_91

ELECTRONIC Electronic
(1991)

Idiot Country 5:03
Reality 5:40
Tighten Up 4:38
The Patience Of A Saint 4:11
Gangster 5:27
Soviet 2:01
Get The Message 5:21 (UK single, #7)
Try All You Want 5:38
Some Distant Memory 4:11
Feel Every Beat 5:07 (UK single, #39)

It’s 1989. The Smiths have only been gone for 2 years, New Order are enjoying their most successful album with Technique, while the Pet Shop Boys are still (just!) in their imperial phase. What say an indie supergroup consisting of members of all three bands?

Electronic was born. Messrs Marr, Sumner, Tennant and Lowe joined forces for a one-off single at the very end of the decade; “Getting Away With It”. It sounded exactly like you’d imagine a PSB song, crossed with a bit of NO mischief, and then sprinkled with some Marr axework, might sound. In some ways, a little too much like you would expect. It reached #12 but the pop world was not shaken from its axis by this star-studded collaboration.

Now it’s 1991. Electronic release an album. Tennant and Lowe have retreated into the background slightly, so it’s the Marr and Sumner show. This time around, the results are more interesting. “Getting Away With It” isn’t even part of the original album (a later reissue, with black artwork, does include it).

Right from the opening bars of Idiot Country, it’s obvious that the album isn’t going to be 10 songs that remind you a bit of New Order and Pet Shop Boys, only not as good. The best stuff on the album can genuinely rank alongside career highlights of all concerned, which is quite some achievement.

Marr gets the license to let rip in a way that his role of “guest for hire” in the aftermath of The Smiths’ demise never allowed. Sumner brings attitude aplenty, leaving his couldn’t-give-a-toss tendencies outside the studio door for once (there are no clunkers here). Even the Pet Shop Boys’ one major contribution is the fantastically withering Patience Of A Saint (“what do I care? I’d rather watch drying paint”).

Subsequent albums proved patchy to say the least, and it’s tempting to wish this album had remained an isolated project. Pristine, focused and with Some Distant Memory as transcendent as ever.

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