Pet Shop Boys Nonetheless Website

Pet Shop Boys – nonetheless (Parlophone)

As a fan from their very first single, it has been heartwarming to see the esteem that the Pet Shop Boys are being held in, with their recent dedicated Friday night and Imagine documentary, both on the BBC showing their rightful place as one of the greatest pop acts of the last 70 years of popular music.

And it’s on such a crest of a wave that sees them release their 15th album, nonetheless (another one word title, all in lower case), this time produced by James Ford, famous for his work with The Last Shadow Puppets and Simian Mobile Disco, so a mix of widescreen pop with dance influences is very much on the cards here.

Written in lockdown, it’s billed as less of a hands-in-the-air pure bangers album, more of a sombre affair, similar to their earlier work such as Behaviour and Elysium, reflection rather than rave.

And the nostalgic feel to it starts with the Please/Actually invoking artwork, continuing with the fact that as you listen, you could place so many of these tracks on previous albums, not that they are ever a band renowned for looking back (it took them 30-odd years for them to do a greatest hits tour).

Recent single ‘Loneliness’ kicks off proceedings, the dictionary definition of a grower, it feels mid paced on first listen, but the BPM somehow seem to increase with each further hearing.

‘Feel’ (inexplicably turned down by Brandon Flowers) with its heartfelt “you make me feel like, nobody else can” chorus is a full on romantic gesture of a record full of feeling, ‘Why Am I Dancing’ written originally for their forthcoming musical, carries on the theme, telling of Neil Tennant’s euphoria of the freedom afforded to him by moving house (of all things).

As the record goes by, the fragility of Tennants’ vocal becomes more noticeable, which suits the feel of the record as much as Chris Lowe’s constant flourishes that make it sound fresh but stylistically always hinting at vintage PSB.

‘New London Boy’ is described by the duo as “what happened between verses 2 and 3 of Being Boring” , another look back which pervades with both a sadness at the passing of time and fellow humans. and also the joy of the return of Neil Tennant’s rapping skills.

The other previously-released single ‘Dancing Star’, written about the defection of Rudolph Nureyev (of course it is, it’s the Pet Shop Boys), which didn’t really pop as a standalone single, but seems to sit better within the confines of the album as a whole.

There’s an orchestral presence on each track on the album, some being easier to spot than others, which adds another layer to what’s always an elegant production.

The hi-energy of the first half is tempered somewhat on side 2, but it’s not a sign of running out of energy, if anything the slower tracks, staring with forthcoming single ‘A New Bohemia’ work better after the non stop beats of the last handful of their albums, whether it’s a deliberate statement or a reaction to lockdown (when it was written with the two band members in separate houses, swapping music and lyrics digitally), it suits the current mood.

‘The Schlager Hit Parade’ is the definitive PSB moment of the album, based on the German pop phenomenon, where the music is a reminder of either high summer or Christmas and sees the cracking open of the acoustic guitars, it’s as quirky as the record gets, insanely catchy, hopefully a future single.

And from one extreme to another, ‘The Secret Of Happiness’ is simply stunning, a huge, 60’s tinged epic, it could be the theme to a James Bond film. The strings carry it along beautifully, it feels timeless, just gorgeous.

There are no other bands on the planet who could then end their album with songs about Donald Trumps’ bodyguard and Oscar Wilde, and god bless them for that. ‘Bullet for Narcissus’ speaks for itself, before ‘Love Is The Law’ is a ‘Kings Cross’-esque closer, again using the power of the orchestra.

It may not gain them any new fans (especially not from the Taylor Swift camp, as hopefully this will knock her off the top of the charts), but may bring a few lost sheep back to the fold, if you’ve ever bought a PSB album previously, now is the time to welcome them back into your collection, with this well rounded record, with not a duffer amongst the tracks.

It oozes class and confidence with a knowing nod or two what’s gone on before, they are as vital as ever and the pop world would be lost without them.

They are the Pet Shop Boys, just being the Pet Shop Boys and they’ll be the Pet Shop Boys forever. Thankfully.



God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.