Pet Shop Boys
Of all the pretentious, big-haired New Wave bands
of the ' the Pet Shop Boys have held up the best. For three days in June the duo will
bring their aren"t-we-droll songs and new album Nightlife to two of the
Kanto area"s newest and shiniest performance spaces.
Formed in 1981, the Pet Shop Boys were the brainchild of vocalist Neil Tennant, a
journalist for UK pop rag Smash Hits, and former cabaret singer Chris Lowe.
Signed to Parlophone Records, the pair"s recipe of dance beats, sexually neutered
irony, and despair hidden behind a shiny, smiling facade was very much in evidence on
their breakthrough 1985 smash single "West End Girls."
Their debut 1986 album, Please, made it clear that, appearances to the contrary, the PSBs
were more than a flash in the pan. The album spawned a series of hits including "Love
Comes Quickly" and "Opportunities (Let"s Make Lots of Money)." In
1987, the duo were back on top with a cover of the Elvis Presley hit "Always On My
A series of albums in the late '80s and '90s affirmed the Pet Shop Boys" place in the
pop firmament, including Actually (1987), Behavior (1990), Very
(1993) and Bilingual (1996).
With last November"s Nightlife, the PSBs stated their refusal to be
consigned to the dustbin of pop history. The album drops plenty of bombs, with, as always,
Tennant"s frail voice framed by an orchestral wall of glistening strings, throbbing
bass and synthesizer flourishes. The single "New York City Boy" is a camp
tribute to '70s disco group the Village People, and reminds us of the importance of gay
culture in the development of dance culture.
It will be curious to see what kind of show the Pet Shop Boys put on in their first Japan
tour in nine years, as their incorporation of stage dancers, film and other theatrical
elements should take full advantage of the huge stages for which they have been scheduled.
Pet Shop Boys play Yokohama
Pacifico on June 14 and Tokyo International Forum on June 16 and 17. See listings for details.
|In a December lawsuit, the Pet Shop Boys
were awarded libel damages from writer Roger Scruton, who in his book, "An
Intelligent Person"s guide to Modern Culture," alleged that Neil Tennant and
Chris Lowe were producer puppets, lumping them together with the Spice Girls.