For twenty six years now, the Pet Shop Boys have been releasing impeccably crafted singles and albums. The English duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe continue to remain vital and creative, having just released their second double disc collection of B-sides while simultaneously continuing to work on their eleventh studio album. Beyond being prolific and critically acclaimed artists, the Pet Shop Boys are worshipped by their devoted fans who eagerly discuss and dissect every song, lyric, note, performance, and image.
While The Pets appeal worldwide to music lovers of all persuasions, in the United States they are mostly perceived to be a cult act who’s audience consists primarily of gay men. Their preferred musical genre is electronic dance pop; in fact, Tennant and Lowe have previously expressed strong anti-”rockist” sentiments. Lampooning Bono is easy enough, but the Pet Shop Boys aren’t that obvious. Who better to marry U2′s “Where the Streets Have No Name” with the Four Season’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” set it to a pulsing disco beat, and debut it during one of the most theatrical stage productions pop music had ever seen (1991′s Performance tour)? It was thrilling and glorious.
The Pet Shop Boys have addressed gay issues in their lyrics (“To Speak Is a Sin,” “Can You Forgive Her?,” among many) and penned the most poignant and gorgeous AIDS elegy ever with “Being Boring.” They turned a forgotten Village People track (“Go West”) into something universally revered equally as soccer stadium chant and gay liberation anthem. They combined “Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat.” Their songs are iconic, and to employ an overused superlative, they are pop geniuses.
Speaking personally, I first learned of the Pet Shop Boys when I saw that indelible, murky video for “West End Girls” on local Boston music cable network V66, and was intrigued enough to seek out the single. Debut album Please lured me in, and I’ve been hooked for life. Every new Pet Shop Boys release has been a cause for celebration, and their occasional tours bring out the petheads to gather in mass revelry. Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to pay tribute to these pop icons at the next Fur & Gold.