Tuesday, 1 September 2009

1988 Pet Shop Boys: Heart

For the fourth single from their 'Actually' album, the Pet Shop Boys took a few steps back from the overloaded bombast of 'It's A Sin' and instead retreated to a more mechanically basic sound with only some Kelly Marie type 'boop boops' for embellishment.

'Heart' comes with the ever forward drive of a mid-eighties New Order but minus the nagging hooks and counter melodies that gave their sound it's third dimension; what you hear really is what you get, and what you get is a song that would sound more at home at the start of the decade rather than its end.
Nothing wrong with that in itself, but it was a little early to go retro and it kind of goes against the rub of what the Pet Shop Boys were supposed to be all 'about'. Rather than pushing any envelopes, 'Heart' sounds like someone experimenting with their first synthesiser on Christmas morning.

As a song too it's pretty standard stuff. 'My heart starts missing a beat' sings Tennant on the chorus, but not in a way that you believe him and neither in a way that satisfactorily resolves the held back tension that the verses create, meaning that you're constantly waiting for something special to happen like a dramatic change of key or an unexpected eruption of counter melody. Waiting, waiting, and then when it never does come the disappointment is palpable.

'Heart' is strictly one way traffic heading to Formulaicville. It's by no means a 'bad' song, it's just the rather dull sound of a barrel being scraped, and dull isn't something you'd normally associate with Tennant and Lowe. They had, and would continue to do, much better than this.

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