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clubbing, sex, and/or ugliness. "Miserablism" is ultimately a witty put-down directed at cynicism, while "Jack the Lad" explores the advantage of being mentally unstable or ignorant. "Shameless" is one of the most gloriously satirical tunes ever ("We're shameless / we will do anything / to get our fifteen minutes of fame"). "Violence", a melancholy number, is well offset by "Losing My Mind", (also given to Liza Minelli) an upbeat song about heartbreak. From the orchestral "Overture to 'Performance'", to the song about Hitler, "Don Juan", to the experimental "The Sound of the Atom Splitting" Alternative shows us songs written via the extreme moods of Tennant and Lowe as well as songs that could just as easily be found on their "normal" albums. Not only does Alternative give us a clearer picture of the psychology behind the music of the Pet Shop Boys (a group proudly accepting the label "pop"), but it also serves as a tapestry of club life over the past ten or so years, a "historical record of contemporary dance music," in Lowe's words. Consequently, it is one of the top five most important albums of this year and certainly belongs in the collection of anyone respecting the art of songwriting.