Pet Shot Boys – Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe – have new single, ‘The Pop Kids’ out 18 March, followed by new album Super on 1 April.
Hardcore fans will need little persuading to immediately download or order hard copy (because you just know Neil and Chris devote serious thought and energy on lavish vinyl packaging). However, we realize that the duo’s output may have slipped off the radar of some people in the last couple of decades.
Sure, everyone knows ‘West End Girls’ and ‘It’s A Sin’, but we asked some serious Pet-heads to choose their finest PSB tracks since the turn of the 21st century. So, here’s the best Pet Shop Boys album that never was…
From 2013’s Electric, Tennant said that ‘Bolshy’ was about being awkward and loud, but it was also a wordplay on Bolshevik. In the hands of producer Stuart Price, it’s a hugely enjoyable and rowdy slice of electro house.
The 2002 single ‘Flamboyant’ was a response to celebrities more famous for their paparazzi popularity than their achievements. Rumored, some say, to be about Victoria Beckham, the lyric accurately takes a swipe at the 21st Century fame game. In one of his archest lines, Tennant sings, ‘To look so loud may be considered tacky, collectors wear black clothes by Issey Miyake.’
Somebody Else’s Business.
Originally planned as an extra track on a Greatest Hits package that never materialized, sublime dancefloor cut ‘Somebody Else’s Business’ turned up instead on 2003’s Disco 3.
A low-key, hypnotic slice of classic Pet Shop Boys about a man in love with a volatile partner who’s always busy minding ‘somebody else’s business’.
Neil and Chris at their most wistful, a video for ‘Invisible’ for released as a teaser for the 2012 album, Elysium – their final for EMI – but it was never actually released as a single. A meditation on growing older, or becoming less significant to someone with whom you are in a relationship, ‘Invisible’ is the boys at their most melancholic and haunting.
Inside A Dream
‘Electric (2013) is one of Pet Shop Boys’ best albums,’ says London DJ Mr Jones. ‘Stuart Price [producer] and PSB are the perfect pop partnership. ‘Inside A Dream’ nods to Propaganda’s Dr Mabuse while the baseline always reminds me of Mish Mash’s ‘Speechless’.’
‘Release (2002) remains the most overlooked Pet Shop Boys albums,’ says Chelsea Kelsey of the London Readers Wifes DJ duo, ‘and unfairly so as it contains some of their most beautifully melancholic songs. ‘Birthday Boy’, which mentions Christmas Eve, is the real deal for crying into the eggnog.’
Blue On Blue
A b-side from 2006, ‘Blue on Blue’ is a sublime piece of electroclash sounding hi-nrg that harks back to their original Bobby O roots. It wouldn’t have sounded out of place on debut album, Please.
Memory Of The Future
An album track from 2012’s Elysium ‘For me this is up there with the PSB greats like ‘Being Boring’ and ‘Rent’,’ says Chelsea Kelsey. ‘I prefer the original album version to the different mix / faster single edit. Just brilliant songwriting at a stately, regal pace.’
I Made My Excuses and Left
From 2006’s Fundamental album. Tennant said he wrote the lyric after reading a recollection from Cynthia Lennon, about walking into a room and seeing John Lennon and Yoko Ono together for a first time and knowing immediately that something was going on between them.
The crushing realization that one’s relationship with someone is over as someone else has entered the picture has rarely been so poignantly expressed.
Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin
The closing track on 2012’s Elysium ‘Requiem…’ is wistful disco that nods back to the music and gay scenes of the 70s and 80s, reflecting on times – and people – lost.
The Way It Used To Be
From 2009’s album, Yes, ‘The Way It Used To Be’ is understated Euro-disco of the highest order. ‘Melancholy synths and one of the most amazing middle eights they have ever written,’ says DJ Simon M.
The Pop Kids
The first single from new album Super, ‘The Pop Kids’ is about being young and discovering the freedom of London and clubbing for the first time. It’s classic Pet Shop Boys dancefloor thumper.
‘It’s about a friend of mine who moved from Birmingham to go to Kings College in London to study History and he made friends with a girl there,’ said Neil Tennant in a press release.
‘They both loved pop music and they used to go clubbing all the time and because of that they were known as the pop kids. I remember him telling me this and at one point I just wrote down the title “The Pop Kids” because I thought it sounded like a good song title.’
Classic Pet Shop Boys song that positively throbs with energy – taken from new 2016 album, Super. ‘We’re gonna burn this disco down before the morning comes,’ sings Tennant repeatedly on a track that pays homage to the boys’ lifetime love of DJ culture.
With thanks to Ross Jones, Chelsea Kelsey and Simon Mackie