Today as I began what likely will be a weeks-long immersion in Pet Shop Boys fantastic upcoming 12th full-length studio album Electric (a hard-core dance collection produced by Stuart Price [Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, Kylie’s Aphrodite] — the best pop producer working today who isn’t Timbaland or Pharrell Williams — and possibly my favorite pop release of 2013 so far, due July 15), I had an interesting thought:
For a British electro-pop duo given to such curt album titles (all 12, from 1986’s Please to 2013’s Electric, have contained one word only), Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe sure have a curious penchant for assigning to the songs within some of the most curiously complicated titles this side of The Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.”
Chances are you haven’t, though, for Pet Shop Boys are nothing if not thoroughly original. “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct,” a title that stands out like a skyscraper (speaking of constructs) among the eight mostly one-story bungalows that surround it (the best of which, “Bolshy” and “Fluorescent,” go to songs that deserve to be packing dance floors from Ibiza to eternity for months to come), continues the pair’s tradition of elaborate titles/hooks.
But what would a new Pet Shop Boys album be without at least one awkward lyrical construct? Though given to bouts of pretension (British post-disco electronic dance music that references Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Handel and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and owes as much to the classical masters as to Kraftwerk), Pet Shop Boys, to quote one of their greatest singles from their greatest album (1990’s Behaviour), were never being boring. Then and now, two decades and three years after “Being Boring,” Tennant’s delivery remains as engagingly monotone and adenoidal as ever (a defining love-it-or-hate-it PSB characteristic, and I happen to live for it), but monotony still couldn’t be further from PSB’s minds — or music.
These Titles Are a Mouthful, But the Songs Still Pop, Rock and Roll!
“Opportunities (Let’s Make Lot’s of Money)” (from Please, 1986)
“What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (featuring Dusty Springfield, from Actually, 1987)
“This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave” (from Behaviour, 1990)
“How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?” (from Behaviour)
“I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing” (from Very, 1993)
“I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore”
(from Nightlife, 1999)
“You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk” (from Nightlife)
“I Made My Excuses and Left” (from Fundamental, 2006)
“Indefinite Leave to Remain” (from Fundamental)
“Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin” (from Elysium, 2012)