Beginner’s guide to Pet Shop Boys

From a chance meeting in 1981 to an entire career of electronic pop – sometimes literary and academic, and other times just a touch camp. Pet Shop Boys have come to be extremely highly regarded by everyone who knows what they’re talking about as purveyors of exquisite pop.

Key moments

West End girls hitting the number one spot on its second attempt in 1985, and every single from their 1987 album Actually hitting the top ten. Or turning Always on My Mind into an energetic electronic number one. Or just missing the top spot with their cover of Go West in 1993. In short, there are rather too many to count.

Where to start

The 2003 compilation PopArt is the probably best of the three that they have released to date, collecting nearly all of their hits from the first twenty years, and only lacking a handful of recent hits. It isn’t in chronological order though, if you’re the sort of person who cares about these things.

What to buy

Move on to Very (1993) next, to hear them at the top of their pop game, and then jump back to fan favourite Behaviour (1990), which will introduce you to their more melancholic side. Finally jump right up to the present day with Electric (2013) and get ready to wave your hands in the air.

Don’t bother with

Initially, Nightlife (1999), Release (2002), or Fundamental (2005). Each has its moments, but you should work your way through the rest of their career before you get to these. The musical and ballet soundtracks Closer to Heaven (2001) and The Most Incredible Thing (2011) are probably for completists only.

Hidden treasure

Their other soundtrack, Battleship Potemkin (2005) is often overlooked but is worth hearing, as are the two b-side collections, Alternative (1995) and Format (2011), both of which are overflowing with fantastic hidden gems. And if you can find a copy of Relentless (1993) then you will be very well rewarded indeed.

For stowaways

3 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to Pet Shop Boys

  1. Pingback: The complete beginner’s guide | Music for stowaways

  2. Pingback: Begin again – revisiting the beginner’s guides | Music for stowaways

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