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Pet Shop Boys - Nonetheless (Album Review)

Thursday, 02 May 2024 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Alasdair McLellan

On their 15th studio album, Pet Shop Boys have teamed up with Arctic Monkeys producer James Ford to deliver a record of terrific poise and poetry that revisits their ‘80s and ‘90s heyday. It is a fine offering from one of British pop music’s most enduring creative partnerships, with Chris Lowe’s steady disco underscoring lyrics that are literary and confessional. 

One of the most memorable songs here is New London Boy, which revisits the spoken word style Neil Tennant used on the duo’s biggest hit, West End Girls. Impressively, the intersection of this rapping with his slightly tubular singing style still feels striking and modern, especially given the aforementioned smash turns 40 this year. 

There is more throwback joy to be had in Dancing Star, a track that opens with a familiar repetitive synth patch and marries disco string swirls with robo-arrangement before going somewhere else entirely.

The lyrics are remarkable, telling the story of Soviet ballet dancer and exile Rudolf Nureyev: “You broke the rules over and over again / A fiery talent with a reputation / A trouble-maker among sombre men.”

It manages to combine sadness and groove into a sense of ecstatic wonder. But it’s not all this heady. While they do not disrupt the album’s flow, The Secret of Happiness and the closing song, Love is the Law, do not live long in the memory. 

And yet, maybe that lack of disruption is one of Pet Shop Boys’ greatest assets. There really aren’t many singers quite like Tennant and the same could be said for the duo taken together. They are unique sounding, like their generational peers Depeche Mode and, to a lesser extent, Erasure.

What ‘Nevertheless’ does is therefore quite surprising. It rejuvenates and rehabilitates their signature sound into something that feels highly contemporary, while paying back fans with masterful lyrics and delightful storytelling. One for fans old and new.

Correction: This review was amended on May 9. An earlier version incorrectly identified Stuart Price as the record's producer.

Pet Shop Boys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun May 26 2024 - LONDON KOKO
Tue June 04 2024 - GLASGOW OVO Hydro
Thu June 06 2024 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
Sat June 08 2024 - BIRMINGHAM Utilita Arena
Sun June 09 2024 - MANCHESTER Co Op Live
Tue June 11 2024 - BELFAST SSE Arena Belfast
Thu June 20 2024 - ISLE OF WIGHT Seaclose Park
Sat June 22 2024 - ISLE OF WIGHT Seaclose Park
Tue July 23 2024 - LONDON Royal Opera House
Wed July 24 2024 - LONDON Royal Opera House
Thu July 25 2024 - LONDON Royal Opera House
Fri July 26 2024 - LONDON Royal Opera House
Sat July 27 2024 - LONDON Royal Opera House

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