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Pop - Released July 15, 2013 | x2 Recordings Ltd

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
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Pop - Released January 24, 2020 | x2 Recordings Ltd

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Dance - Released August 16, 1993 | Parlophone UK

A collection of immaculately crafted and seamlessly produced synthesized dance-pop, the Pet Shop Boys' debut album, Please, sketches out the basic elements of the duo's sound. At first listen, most of the songs come off as mere excuses for the dancefloor, driven by cold, melodic keyboard riffs and pulsing drum machines. However, the songcraft that the beats support is surprisingly strong, featuring catchy melodies that appear slight because of Neil Tennant's thin voice. Tennant's lyrics were still in their formative stages, with half of the record failing to transcend the formulaic constraints of dance-pop. The songs that do break free -- the intentionally crass "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," the lulling "Suburbia," and the hypnotic "West End Girls" -- are not only classic dance singles, they're classic pop singles. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Dance - Released June 4, 2001 | Parlophone UK

With their second album, Actually, the Pet Shop Boys perfected their melodic, detached dance-pop. Where most of Please was dominated by the beats, the rhythms on Actually are part of a series of intricate arrangements that create a glamorous but disposable backdrop for Neil Tennant's tales of isolation, boredom, money, and loneliness. Not only are the arrangements more accomplished, but the songs themselves are more striking, incorporating a strong sense of melody, as evidenced by "What Have I Done to Deserve This?," a duet with Dusty Springfield. Tennant's lyrics are clever and direct, chronicling the lives and times of urban, lonely, and bored yuppies of the late '80s. And the fact that dance-pop is considered a disposable medium by most mainstream critics and listeners only increases the reserved emotional undercurrent of Actually, as well as its irony. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 24, 1986 | Rhino

A collection of immaculately crafted and seamlessly produced synthesized dance-pop, the Pet Shop Boys' debut album, Please, sketches out the basic elements of the duo's sound. At first listen, most of the songs come off as mere excuses for the dancefloor, driven by cold, melodic keyboard riffs and pulsing drum machines. However, the songcraft that the beats support is surprisingly strong, featuring catchy melodies that appear slight because of Neil Tennant's thin voice. Tennant's lyrics were still in their formative stages, with half of the record failing to transcend the formulaic constraints of dance-pop. The songs that do break free -- the intentionally crass "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," the lulling "Suburbia," and the hypnotic "West End Girls" -- are not only classic dance singles, they're classic pop singles. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 7, 1987 | Rhino

With their second album, Actually, the Pet Shop Boys perfected their melodic, detached dance-pop. Where most of Please was dominated by the beats, the rhythms on Actually are part of a series of intricate arrangements that create a glamorous but disposable backdrop for Neil Tennant's tales of isolation, boredom, money, and loneliness. Not only are the arrangements more accomplished, but the songs themselves are more striking, incorporating a strong sense of melody, as evidenced by "What Have I Done to Deserve This?," a duet with Dusty Springfield. Tennant's lyrics are clever and direct, chronicling the lives and times of urban, lonely, and bored yuppies of the late '80s. And the fact that dance-pop is considered a disposable medium by most mainstream critics and listeners only increases the reserved emotional undercurrent of Actually, as well as its irony. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 22, 1990 | Rhino - Parlophone

Behavior was a retreat from the deep dance textures of Introspective, as it picked up on the carefully constructed pop of Actually. In fact, Behavior functions as the Pet Shop Boys' bid for mainstream credibility, as much of the album relies more on popcraft than rhythmic variations. Although its a subtle maneuver, it would have been rather disastrous if the results weren't so captivating. Tennant takes this approach seriously, singing the lyrics instead of speaking them. That doesn't necessarily give the album added emotional baggage -- all of the distance and detachment in the duo's music is not a hindrance, it's part of the concept -- but it does result in an ambitious and breathtaking pop album, which manages to include everything from the spiteful "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?" to the wistful "Being Boring." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 1, 2016 | x2 Recordings Ltd

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Pop - Released October 11, 1988 | Rhino

Featuring a mere six tracks, most of them well over six minutes in length, Introspective was a move back to the clubs for the Pet Shop Boys. Over the course of the album, they incorporated various dance techniques that were currently in vogue, including Latin rhythms and house textures. The title isn't entirely an arch joke, however. Like Actually, Introspective was an exploration of distant, disaffected yuppies, which naturally resulted in a good deal of self-analyzation. Melodically, the essential song structures were as strong and multi-layered as the previous album, yet that was hard to hear beneath the varying rhythmic textures that composed the bulk of each track. Nevertheless, the mixes are more compelling than the remixes on Disco, and the songs include several of their best numbers, including "Left to My Own Devices" and "Domino Dancing," as well as the reconstruction of "Always on My Mind" and a cover of Blaze's club classic, "It's Alright." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 10, 2006 | Parlophone UK

Looking back at the 20 years since Neil Tennant left England's Smash Hits magazine to form the Pet Shop Boys with Chris Lowe, the two-CD Popart opens itself up for arguments while surpassing 1991's Discography as the ready-to-wear selection. All the growing up and becoming more emotionally focused that the duo did post-Discography could have yielded a dour hits collection, but putting new tracks like the plaintive "I Get Along" between the slick chestnuts "West End Girls" and "So Hard" works to the listener's advantage. The tropical and wistful "Single-Bilingual" and the clever and melancholy "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" add more latter-day treasures that Discography couldn't include, and the only thing left to do besides submit is argue about the details. There is one disc full of "Pop" moments and the other "Art," but just try to figure out the criteria. The two new songs (the austere electro of "Miracles" and the fair "Flamboyant") are nice enough, but they're not as fully formed as their surroundings, making them obvious late additions. A little bit of text and history in the liner notes would have helped, and fans should be aware that most of the tracks here appear in album versions rather than single mixes. Of course, compilers need to make decisions, and bookending the collection with the ultra-camp and semi-flippant covers of "Go West" and "Somewhere" could be seen as a comment on how listeners shouldn't worry so much and should just enjoy. Regardless of omissions and decisions, Popart is an excellent, hang-together listen and a better representation of the duo's career than Discography. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 12, 2019 | x2

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Pop - Released June 4, 2001 | Rhino - Parlophone

Because they work in a field that isn't usually taken seriously, the Pet Shop Boys are often ignored in the rock world. But make no mistake -- they are one of the most talented pop outfits working today, witty and melodic with a fine sense of flair. Very is one of their very best records, expertly weaving between the tongue-in-cheek humor of "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing," the quietly shocking "Can You Forgive Her?," and the bizarrely moving cover of the Village People's "Go West." Alternately happy and melancholy, Very is the Pet Shop Boys at their finest. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 20, 2017 | Rhino

Coming down from the ambitious, politically charged Fundamental, Yes is the sound of the Pet Shop Boys unwinding and returning to their usual fascinations: isolation, fashion, grand arrangements, and witty synth pop anthems. Unfortunately, they're in a slump with their songwriting, and subject-wise, every song here has a companion piece on some earlier album, but that doesn't mean the party is spoiled. The delicate electro opener "Love Etc." is PSB perfection with its memorable hook and faultless construction. Brian Higgins and his Xenomania team (Saint Etienne, Girls Aloud) share songwriting and production duties on the track, and while that later credit continues for the remainder of the album, the hip crew becomes invisible as singer Tennant and synth-man Lowe take over. Employing an Abbey Road orchestra and hiring Johnny Marr for some Hollywood guitar seems a familiar Pet Shop Boys maneuver, and when Neil Tennant tops it off with some sardonic lyrics, "Beautiful People" becomes a pleasingly comfortable gift for any fan thrown by Fundamental's action committee attitude. "Did You See Me Coming" is the exhilarated infatuation of "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Sort of Thing" all over again, while "King of Rome" is the spitting image of the duo's 1987 chestnut "King's Cross." These are good things, especially for the sworn fan, and so are the few quirky new ideas, like the duo trading lines Run-D.M.C. style on "Building a Wall." The grand closer "Legacy" is the obvious songwriting highlight, partly because of the Kurt Weill-like breakdown in the middle, but mostly because of the grim way it comforts the brokenhearted. Neil proposes that glaciers melt and stars burn out so there's a pretty good chance that given time "you'll get over it." It's much better than the "Is that a riot/or are you just glad to see me" line in "Pandemonium" and just the touch Yes needs to put this above the standard PSB album. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 28, 2017 | Rhino

Nightlife is a loose concept album -- more of a song cycle, really -- about nightlife (naturally), a collection of moods and themes, from love to loneliness. In that sense, it's not that different from most Pet Shop Boys albums, and, musically, the album is very much of a piece with Very and Bilingual, which is to say that it relies more on craft than on innovation. Depending on your point of view, this may not be such a bad thing, since Pet Shop Boys specialize in subtle craft and masterful understatement. Such skills serve them well when they're essentially following familiar musical territory, which they are on Nightlife. At its core, the record is very much like Very -- a clever, skillful updating of classic disco, highlighted by small contemporary dance flourishes, and infused with a true sense of wit, sophistication, and intelligence. Pet Shop Boys do this music better than anyone else ever has, and they're at the top of their form here, but it's hard to shake the initial impression that they've done this before. Each individual song works beautifully, from the wistfully dejected "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" to the exhilarating Village People homage "New York City Boy," but as a whole, Nightlife seems less than the sum of its parts. Repeated listens reveal the songs' charms, yet Nightlife coasts on its craft a bit too much, which makes it feel like one of their second-tier albums. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 13, 2019 | x2

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Pop - Released February 12, 2010 | Parlophone UK

Some might say that the Pet Shop Boys have released more live documents than any synth pop band has a right to, but fans would wholeheartedly disagree. Joey Sixpack might not notice, but the duo takes great pride in making each tour’s set list unique, plus there are always some surprises for card-carrying fanclub members. Here, on this document of a 2009 concert at London’s O2 Arena, that means rarely heard live numbers like "Two Divided by Zero" and "Why Don't We Live Together?" plus the long-lost B-Side “Do I Have To?” Well-worn numbers like “Suburbia” and “Being Boring” are delivered as if they were fresh and new, while the triumphant performance of “West End Girls” shows that PSB have, shockingly, not grown tired of the tune. Kick it all off with a fantastic new mash-up of "More Than a Dream/Heart" and it’s a must own for the faithful, but when you add a well-shot DVD that captures the whole stage show, it’s the ultimate in PSB live sets. Borrowing an idea from Pink Floyd, the stage set features a wall of white blocks that are deconstructed, rearranged, and scattered as video is projected onto them. The effect is something dynamic and full of change that disappears when the lights come up, leaving nothing but the stark white stage and the fairly motionless duo. Clever, as always. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 6, 2001 | Rhino

As a title, Bilingual is a double-edged sword. Disregard its sexual connotations and concentrate on its musical implications -- Bilingual is a rich, diverse album that delves deeply into Latin rhythms. It's not a crass, simplistic fusion, where the polyphonic rhythms are simply grafted over synthesizers and a disco pulse. Instead, Bilingual is an enormously subtle album, with shifting rhythms and graceful, understated melodies. The music isn't the only thing subtle about the album -- Neil Tennant's voice and lyrics are nuanced, suggesting more than they actually say. Furthermore, Bilingual consists of the most optimistic, happy set of songs the Pet Shop Boys have ever recorded. Whether it's the smooth disco of "Before" or the insistent rhythms of "Se a Vida E," Bilingual is filled with joyous, if subdued, sounds. If anything, it's further proof that even if the Pet Shop Boys aren't gracing the top of the charts as frequently as they did during the late '80s, they are crafting albums that are more adventurous and successful than they did when they were one of the top singles acts in pop music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 28, 2017 | Rhino

The Pet Shop Boys have never made a bad album, but with Nightlife, they started to seem a little worn out, as if they had explored their sound as far as it would go. But Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are among the smartest, pop-savvy groups to ever record, so they not only realized they were stagnating, they knew what to do about it, bringing Tennant's Electronic partner and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr for several songs, and moving the group toward careful, considered, mature pop for their eighth album, Release (another pun-worth title, worthy of Please). For most artists, the adjective "mature" would seem an epithet, but here it's an accurate description for this elegant, eloquent, knowing music -- it's maturation achieved through experience and worldliness, not an exorbitant bank account. On that level, this is about the most mature pop album released this decade, exhibiting a refined sense of craft and a keen sense of purpose, marrying the particular sentiment of a song with the right production. It's hard to call Release an album of its time, since it hardly falls prey to trends, but it's aware of its time -- an album that's proudly out of step with the particulars of hipness, but knows what they constitute, knows what they feel like, knows what modernism means for somebody who's lived their life with the burden of being hip, whose always felt a compulsion to stay on top of things -- and feeling that desire fade as you get older. So, that means that while Release occasionally sings of the new -- synth lines, vocoders, beats, a song designed to respond to Eminem's homophobia (the exquisite "The Night I Fell in Love") -- it's from the vantage of people who have lived through all of this before, and know particulars will pass while the song remains the same. The great thing is, even if this sentiment has been present in previous Pet Shop Boys albums, they have brought the dance-club to the background (partially due to Marr's presence) and have brought the songs to the forefront, resulting in a record that feels like the Pet Shop Boys, even when it doesn't sound like them. And that's a good thing, since it retains their greatest attributes while giving them a new spin, and it makes for the best Pet Shop Boys album in nearly ten years. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Electronic - Released January 4, 1988 | Parlophone UK

Released at the height of dance-pop in 1986, the Pet Shop Boys' remix album Disco defiantly asserted the roots of the current trend with the title. And with its long remixes, Disco is designed to be pumped at a dancefloor. As casual listening, it gets a bit tedious, but even at these extended lengths, the melodic craft of the Pet Shop Boys' material shines through. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 20, 2017 | Rhino

Besides being mostly midtempo and mostly mid-temperature, Pet Shop Boys' 11th studio album is an oddly structured effort, giving up its theme during track number four, a seemingly throwaway, two-and-a-half-minute ditty called "Your Early Stuff." They may be dashing, tasteful pop craftsmen to their fans, but Elysium's prime number finds them pre-gig and stuck with a cabbie who sees this duo as A Flock of Seagulls-styled nostalgic fluff, where haircuts and videos are discussed before anyone remembers the song was called "West End Girls." Good news, because PSB's catty moments are some of their most delicious, and while the fine "Ego Music" ("In the sea of negativity/I'm the Statue of Liberty/That's why people love me/It's humbling") balances bliss and spite with the grace of their 1991 single "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?," feeling prickly is out of fashion when the Olympics come to town, and this is the Pet Shop Boys album with their Olympic single "Winner." Low-key and still triumphant, the cut feels like fists in the air while wearing tasteful trench coats, and without the usual panache, this misty victory is still an acquired taste. The hooky "A Face Like That," on the other hand, is winning crossover, paying extra dividends to fan club members who will see it as a sped-up "Love Comes Quickly," and with ironic swan song "Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin" soaring with classical arrangements, Derek Jarman references, and memories of "the clichés, the candles, the mess," the album's awkward juggling of self-doubt and spectacle is on point for a moment, suggesting return visits to Elysium will provide answers and insight, Behaviour-style. Maybe that motorcycle heard at the end of the album is speeding toward a new tomorrow, or maybe it's headed toward the Olympic closing ceremonies for Pet Shop Boys to perform "West End Girls" when they'd prefer to do "Winner." Either way, Elysium is an interesting, sour, and insider-aimed dispatch from backstage, interrupted by some big moments that sound entirely commissioned. © David Jeffries /TiVo