Saturday, 30 May 2015

Pet Shop Boys Alternative Japan As Requested By Cren

Pet Shop Boys Alternative CD1/CD2

Get It At Discogs

Alternative, a double-CD set, does much more for PSB fans than Discography. The former not only covers songs/mixes usually found solely on singles as b-sides, but it covers a greater portion of their career. Collectively, the 36 songs on Alternative show us a different side of the Pet Shop Boys--a side that is more experimental, and yet, more personal - that previous albums have not shown. Lowe remarks, "We've always used the b-side as a way of learning to produce. When we started, the b-side was where we learned to do things ourselves. So it wasn't a throwaway, ever. It's been fundamental to how we progress." This compilation is a showcase of that progression, which becomes more evident upon comparing old and new tracks. "That's My Impression", one of the Boys' first songs, seems rather flat next to the vibrant "Euroboy" or the eerie "Some Speculation". But upon closer inspection, "Impression" is really just a humorous song, no matter how serious it may sound. This is a fine example of how PSB songs can reshape themselves to fit the era or the listener's mood. "I Want A Dog", a song supposedly about loneliness, is "funny," according to Tennant, "but it's also serious and true at the same time." So in this way, no one track can really be deemed better than another--only less serious, less intense, etc. With the lyrics they write for b-sides, Tennant and Lowe must feel like mini-psychologists or some other form of wise men. "Your Funny Uncle" is a crushingly sad song Tennant wrote about the funeral of a close friend. "We Feel Better In the Dark" is a song about 
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.

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