MY BOYS! My beloved Pet Shop Boys are back. A new album comes out in less than ten days!!
I’ve been a fan of the Pet Shop boys since I was in elementary school. All the other kids liked Van Halen and Twisted Sister. To me, those were just… boring. Soulless. The same twangy guitars and neurotic, nonsensical screams. The long hair, the ripped jeans, it was all so very, very, boring.
…but the Pet Shop Boys, they were different. Just standing there, still, with this… look. This ever-so-slight smug smirk suggesting they were above it all and they were privy to some amusing inside joke. These stoic guys making these incredibly dense and polished tracks with layer upon layer of synthetic goodness piled up deep, like some sort of audio-electro lasagna. It was weird. It was cool. It was different, and awesome, and in 1984, while everyone else in grade 6 wore rocker headbands, I related more to the smug smirk than the shirtless rocker clones throwing up the horns.
The Pet Shop Boys were more my style; weird, odd, complicated, different. KISS had this crazy makeup. The guy from Twister Sister shook this big… bone, and screamed. Neil and Chris just sort of… stood there. Above it all.
David Lee Roth belted out this stuff:
“I wanna live it up, wanna quit my job, tell the boss to go to hell. I ain’t complainin’, you do the best with what you got, I know you’re laughin’ cause it’s easy to tell, I’m goin’ crazy, goin’ crazy, oooh, from the heat”.
Wow. That’s just so… boring. David doesn’t like his job and apparently it’s quite hot out.
At the same time the Pet Shop Boys were coming up with lyrics like:
“Sometimes you’re better off dead. There’s a gun in your hand and it’s pointed at your head. You think you’re mad, too unstable, kicking in chairs and knocking down tables in a restaurant in a west end town. Call the police, there’s a madman around. Running down, underground to a dive bar in west end town”.
So Neil here is singing about… hell, I still don’t really know, but it’s an amazing visual. Some guy is thrashing around, losing his marbles in a restaurant, ready to shoot himself in the head; then he storms off to some shitty bar to drink all the pain away.
I mean, come on.
David Lee Roth came and went. The fellows from KISS took off the face paint when they eventually realized they looked like complete tools. Who knows what happened to Dee Schnyder (that was his name, right?) from Twisted Sister? All of them, blown off the radar. But the Pet Shop Boys? Still here. Still sporting the subtile smirk. Still doing great stuff. They’re freakin’ FIFTY YEARS OLD and still making amazing pop music.
Here’s the Pet Shop Boys on the Brit Awards (getting a lifetime achievement award) doing a cool medley of some of their work. I read somewhere in an article that Chris said “we don’t party like we used to. Before the Brit Awards, Neil had a white wine spritzer and I had a nap”. They may be a old, but they still rock. The up-and-coming Lady GaGa (who feels a little out of place) sings in place of Dusty Springfield and Brandon Flowers from the Killers even makes an appearance and sings a little.
Anyhow, the new album sounds fantastic. There’s a 4 track sampler floating around the internet and the songs are just amazingly catchy. The boys swing so effortlessly from spooky to jubilant to downright miserable. Here’s a YouTube link to the video for “Love, Etc” which is really cool.
There’s another song that I’ve played about fifty times since downloading it; it’s so toe-tapping and fun and incredibly silly called “Pandemonium” which has a verse that says:
“Oh, now look what, you’ve gone and done, You’re creating pandemonium. That song you sing means everything To me, I’m living in ecstasy. My world’s gone mad, what did you do? Telling perfect strangers that I love you. The stars and the sun dance to your drum. And now it’s pandemonium”.
I mean, come on. That is just Awesome! Giddy, fun, sily awesomeness. In today’s messed up world where somehow a “song” with the chorus “get a bitch up on a dick” passes as “Pop Music”. No joke, I literally heard that exact phrase being “sung” (if you can even call it that) at the gym two weeks ago and it literally stopped me in my tracks. No joke, I actually stopped walking and said out loud, “Really? That’s it? THAT’S music?”. I felt like I was a hundred years old, making fun of “the crazy music today”, but man, that’s just plain terrible.
The boys so effortlessly bound between incredible optimism and absolutely misery. I still firmly believe that “Love is a Catastrophe”, from the 2002 “Release” album, is pretty much the most depressing love song I have ever heard. Check this one:
“No concentration, just rerunning conversation, trying to understand… how I fell into this quicksand. What happens next? With life I’m unimpressed. Pain, like a cutter’s knife… Never been lonelier in my life”.
I mean, YEEEESH.
Then a year later (2003, Pop/Art album) Neil had obviously gotten over his painful breakup, and the Boys come up with one of the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard. A track that is so uplifting, so slickly produced, and so positive, yet isn’t yucky and sappy – it’s a thumping dance track with incredibly poetic lyrics:
“Thunder is silent before you. Roses bloom more to adore you, too. Miracles happen when you’re around. The sunset is deeper and longer; The scent of the jasmine is stronger. Stray dogs don’t bite, Birds start to sing, Lightening daren’t strike, You suddenly bring… A bluer sky, whenever you’re around; You always bring a bluer sky, a brighter day. Birds fly even higher in the sky. Sun shines, It’s a new day”.
The music videos are amazing. The video for the above song is more of a commercial for high speed cameras than it is a love song.
These guys are it, man. They’re crazy. They’ve never stopped being awesome. Where as the current plods in Hip Hop seem to lack any imagination, Neil and Chris just seem to never stop. Imagination just pours out their ears. I love it. Hip Hop posters have guys with gold rings standing in front of BMW’s. Neil and Chris counter that with orange suits and stripy cone hats.
And while I understand that as a fan I have just committed gross copyright violations by posting links to a few of their songs here, perhaps some of you who have dismissed the Boys as “old relics from the 80’s” will take a second listen. Go pick up a couple albums from iTunes and do yourself a favor. The Pet Shop Boys have been keeping great pop music alive and well for the past 25 years.
Me, I’ll be the first one in line at the iTunes store myself on March 23rd to pick up a copy of the new album! And i don’t even need to wait outside in the cold. All I have to do is click a button. Wonderful.