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

Visitors' rating (plurality): ★★★★☆
Visitors' rating (rounded average): ★★★★☆
Wayne's rating: ★★★★☆

These star-ratings reflect how PSB albums compare to each other—not how they compare to albums by other artists.

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.

Top Picks by Voter Ratings

  1. Integral
  2. Minimal
  3. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show

Wayne's Top Picks

  1. Integral
  2. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show
  3. I Made My Excuses and Left


A special limited edition of the album featured a bonus disc titled Fundamentalism. In addition to remixes of several of the parent album's tracks and a couple of other non-album songs from the period, it also offered the at-that-time otherwise unavailable "Fugitive." (The tracks titled "Sodom" and "Gomorrah" are remixes of "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show.")

2017 Reissue Further Listening

In 2017, Fundamental was one of several PSB albums reissued with either one or two bonus Further Listening discs that included several alternate mixes of some of the original album's songs, other tracks recorded around the same time, and the associated single b-sides. These b-side songs had previously been released on their Format compilation; the links below to those b-sides take you to my pages for those songs in my Format section. Other links take you to other appropriate sections of my website.

Further Listening 2005–2007