Although we were fans of Pet Shop Boys back in the day (and have seen them live, the Review Corner males being the lone representatives of straight men in Manchester Apollo) we’ve missed their latter albums so this, the first in a series of re-releases, was welcome.
The Review Corner’s pet PSB fan says this was not one of their best, but it’s pretty good. It sees Messrs Tennant and Lowe turn their back on hi-energy dance tunes and go for more thoughtful ballads.
Standout on first play is The Night I Fell in Love, PSB’s riposte to Eminem’s homophobic lyrics. Mr Mathers claimed he wasn’t homophobic in real life and was just playing a part, so the Boys had the brilliant idea of imagining a pop star (who knows Dre and had a hit with Stan) enjoying a night of gay romps. With a schoolboy. How Marshall must have laughed at the cleverness.
Opener Home And Dry is also good, a downbeat but recognisably PSB tune to draw in the fans, as is The Samurai In Autumn, a chilled dance track.
The excellent sleeve notes are candid, with the band saying the album was an attempt to avoid the tag “another Pet Shop Boys album” but all those people who dismissively attached that epithet to other works “didn’t discover it or proved immune to the opportunity” (maybe it was Home And Dry’s video, featuring camcorder footage of mice that did it). The band was quickly forced to issue Disco 3, an album of dance remixes in “damage limitation mode”.
Release was nominated for a Grammy award for best recording package, so it wasn’t all a flop, and the weaker songs on here are not actually bad, just not typical PSB tracks. Even Birthday Boy, inspired by Michael Owen’s birthday and Jesus Christ. OK, so maybe London is a bit naff, with its vocoder and bland verses, but then again you get Johnny Marr popping up as compensation.
Overall: definitely not another Pet Shop Boys album. Not their best but a nice acoustic/chilled set of background music tunes and a couple of pretty good tracks.
Nightlife and Fundamental are also being reissued and we’ll review them shortly. All three CDs come with extensive and witty sleeve notes and oodles of bonus songs.