Album: Introspective – Pet Shop Boys
Review: Los Angeles Times, 13 November 1988
Author: Dennis Hunt
Dancing and Thinking
Britain’s Pet Shop Boys specialize in dark, brooding dance music – thinking man’s dance music, if you will. They give you strong rhythms but scuttle the usual fun-fun-fun frothiness in favor of moody, cynical lyrics. None of that “dance with me, baby” nonsense for these guys.
“Introspective” is the duo’s best work yet and quite possibly the dance music album of the year. As usual, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe manage to stretch the limits of dance music without tampering with its essential funkiness.
The Pet Shop Boys have a very British approach to dance music, merging European techno-pop with American soul rhythms. This high-tech sound is personalized with Tenant’s echo-chamberized vocals that come across as a dispassionate drone, a ghostly monotone that sometimes sounds like a voice from the dead that contrasts the sunny rhythms.
The six cuts on “Introspective” are just the way the dance-music crowd likes them: long (the shortest is 6:15 minutes) and souped up with clever symphonic touches, underscoring a passion for remixing. The most remarkable song in this collection is “I Want a Dog” – an eerie ode to canine companionship. Only this dynamic duo could turn such a mundane subject into a dynamite dance tune.
Last year, I included a very spiteful review from Rolling Stone that was less than complimentary about UK synth-bands. It’s refreshing to read something from just a few years later which more than redresses things.
I bought a copy of a remastered version of Introspective not too long after I got the new turntable earlier this year. It very much added to my happiness. There’s an awful lot of music that reminds me of a similar-era New Order…..it’s little wonder that Bernard and Johnny were so keen for Neil to help out with Electronic.
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (remastered)
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – I Want A Dog (remastered)
Both made available for you at 320 kpbs.
7 thoughts on “ALL OUR YESTERDAYS : (3/15) : INTROSPECTIVE”
Fab album, with I Want A Dog as stand-out track. The hard drive has plenty of PSB, this is my only vinyl with them – essential in any collection.
Why oh why oh why did they put the track split AFTER the rainstorm? It plainly belongs to “I Want A Dog”…
The PSB really did do a nice job offering examples on this album of all the different dance genres that were hitting at the time (House, Freestyle, Synthpop – even Electro & Acid House on the B Sides). it’s a nice snapshot of the era.
I have to echo the love for I Want A Dog. Frankie Knuckles takes a left turn at Chicago and takes the Boys along for the ride. It’s one of the finest moments when Pop met House. On Domino Dancing, rather that approximate the 80s Miami Club sound, they enlisted its most prolific producer to keep them on track. The results is, one of the best party songs you can put on a playlist. But I want to also give a big up for the pure PSB sound of I’m Not Scared. It may have been a gift to Eighth Wonder, but is Synth Pop perfection. Working the Fairlight CMI to within an inch of its capacity to create a cinematic sound. The track is a celebration of all the Pet Shop Boys have to offer, beats, melody, orchestration and lyrical drama.
best part: the chorus on “Left To My Own Devices”
worst part: the way Tennant pronounces “Chihuahua”
It really is a great album. I wouldn’t say I am a huge fan of the PSB, but this album just hits the mark.