Pet Shop Boys (Parlophone)

Neil Tennant suggested recently that accepting the Brits’ Outstanding Contribution Award for 2009 shouldn’t intimate retirement of the Pet Shop Boys.

Their tenth album is pitched as proof that the duo’s vitality continues.

Produced with hit factory Xenomania (Girls Aloud, Sugababes), Yes arrives on a sea of goodwill, billed as a return to form after a decline that stretches back to Bilingual in 1996.

It’s an improvement on Fundamental and Release, both of which lacked the duo’s two greatest assets: sharp wit and big choruses.

Legacy has the former, while All Over The World has the latter. The Way It Used To Be has neither but works wonderfully anyway.

Low lights, though, outweigh the highlights. Love Etc sounds like a Girls Aloud demo; Tennant’s vocals aren’t strong enough to carry Beautiful People; and Building A Wall is laboured at best.

Fans will keep the faith until next time – and with good reason. But ‘outstanding contribution’ this album isn’t. WILL FULFORD-JONES