The first thing to grab you will be the cover art: a black-and-white photo of a man’s taut, flexed butt in stretch pants enthusiastically framed by the owner’s strong hands. The image, via Robert Mapplethorpe, is intended to pay homage to the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album, but what makes this cover truly wonderful (aside from making all the tops hot and bothered) is that it instantly and publicly brands the band as gay in the same mainstream context that usually prompts others to tone it down. They’re the new Pet Shop Boys. What’s interesting is that this was the album that almost didn’t happen. After working 18 months on the follow-up to 2005’s Ta-Dah, the band scrapped the original version of Night Work as something they couldn’t fully get behind. Only after running away to Berlin for several months did lead singer Jake Shears get the inspiration to re-conceive the album alongside a new executive producer, Stuart Price. Known for his hugely successful work with Madonna (Confessions on a Dance Floor), the Killers (Hot Fuss), and Kylie (Aphrodite), Stuart Price (whose remixes are often credited as Jacques Lu Cont and Thin White Duke) was clearly brought in to give the band the dance-oriented sound that now dominates American pop while still allowing the band’s disco/glam-rock essence to remain at the core of the music. The result is a successful labyrinth of sound. The lead single is a ballady number, “Fire with Fire,” that’s been given the Peter Rauhofer-remix treatment. But for something perfect in its original form, go straight to the last track, “Invisible Light.” Pure magic.