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Monday, 14 November 2011

The Pet Shop Boys: another '80s pleasure

If A-Ha weren't enough of a throw-back to those glorious Eighties days then here is another recently discovered delight.

In what is fast becoming an obsession, I am going through my back catalogue of music and finding new enjoyment by listening through older ears; The Pet Shop Boys, quintessentially '80s in their look, had me hooked during my teenage years.

Looking back now there is one track that seems to have grown better with age; the huge number one, It's A Sin.

First of all the start, with a swift and dramatic drum beat followed by a NASA countdown. Then, after a bolt of lightening we're into that hard, disco tune.

"When I look back upon my life, it's always with a sense of shame, I've always been the one to blame."

What an opening line to a song, describing exactly how this song is going to go. There's going to be no uplifting moment of realisation here; no message to be given about loving yourself and you have the power to change. This is an angry song about a man who doesn't understand, who looks back and wonders why he has been so let down by everyone. Those beautiful lyrics of regret and self-demonisation, possibly caused by a Catholic straight-jacket; "Everything I've ever done, everything I ever do, every place I've ever been, everywhere I'm going to. It's a sin."

What a powerful piece of pop this is. This is pure theatre. The beat mixed effortlessly with strings and a dramatic underscore. It flows and yet seems disjointed, with little effects added in here and there. It's A Sin is a wonderful record that still stands up today, it has anger, passion and pain, it has the lyrics to suggest that and music to compliment that emotion. This is a true classic for all time.

The Pet Shop Boys are Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe; they were a huge band in the 1980's with hits such as Suburbia; West End Girls; Always On My Mind and Domino Dancing. During a burst in the mid-eighties practically every single released hit the top of the charts. Each new track was eagerly anticipated and they were seen as the edgy, thoughtful and anti-establishment groups that the eighties seemed to lack. You could argue that they brought punk into electronic dance music.

It's A Sin was released in 1987 and went straight to number one in the singles charts.

And they still go on; in 2009 they won an outstanding achievement to music Brit Award and they have a new album out, 'Yes'.

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