Pet Shop Boys have always delivered personal and social experience as a narrative to their material, but Fundamental is a more political album than usual thematically, discussing not just the typical "evils" of politics, but actually where politics pervade the personal.
It's not, to put it most bluntly, simply a record filled with platitudes how politicians are evil, or that we just need to get along. However, the politicization of the personal does occur in more intriguing ways across the album as a whole. Since the theme of
Fundamental, we keep getting told, is "politics today," we can't help but regard many of the other songs in that light, even when they don't appear immediately to be so.
Some obvious examples are "Indefinite Leave to Remain", which clearly reflects on immigration laws' prejudice towards gay partners; and "Psychological", which talks cleverly about a living in a society submerged in fear.
To begin with, much of the album's political targets are at least somewhat novel: an amazing song about ID cards ("Integral"), one about love and nationality, and specifically how immigration laws often disadvantage gay couples ("Indefinite Leave To Remain"), and most pervasively, about the culture of fear ("Luna Park," "Psychological").
Even a Diane Warren contribution, "Numb", can be heard as a comment on human reactions to the climate of terror-attacks and anxieties.
This happens most obviously with the dramatic orchestral ballad "Numb." Composed by Diane Warren (a revelation that I admit I was appalled by), the song first comes across as a straightforward song of heartbreak. (It would have seemed even more so had it appeared, as was the original plan, on PopArt.) But in the context of the new album, its opening lines -- "Don't wanna hear the news/What's going on, what's coming through/I don't wanna know" -- reminds us that it's now a song about the desire or even need to zombify oneself as a way of coping with a world gone mad.
: To paraphrase Kayne West, I'm not saying that Marshall is a plagiarist, but I don't see how this much similarity could be coincidence.