Posted in Album Reviews

Pet Shop Boys – Behaviour/Further Listening 1990-1991 (2018)

Pet Shop Boys fourth album Behaviour was released in October 1990 but I did not pick up the original release until the mid-90s.  By then BritPop was in full swing and it was all “lager lager lager”.  The mature electronic songs of betrayal that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe presented here seemed out of step with other pop music when I bought it the first time around.  Co-Produced by Harold Faltermeyer, this was the release I was most interested in for the Further Listening series to see what I missed the first time around.

The first disc presents the remastered version of the original album with most of the songs touching on love but from different angles.  “To Face The Truth” is an excellent album track with genuinely moving lyrics.  “You know it hurts me when you lie, sometimes it even makes me cry, cause I’m so in love with you”. “When we fall in love there’s confusion” is the excellent chorus in “This Must be the Place I waited Years to Leave”.  “The End of the World” downplays romantic quarrels over a crisp drum beat.

The songs that pulled from here for the Discography Complete Singles Collection released in 1991 are the best tracks and a step up from the Introspective album singles that precedes them.  “So Hard” is one of Pet Shop Boys hardest driving songs as two lovers fight over whether one has started smoking again. Mostly just percussion during the verses, the synths get expansive for a few seconds when Tennant sings “tell me why, don’t we try?”   “Jealousy” was one of the first tracks the duo wrote back in 1982 and features a devastating chorus as one person sits and waits up for his/her partner to come back home again.  The true centerpiece of the album is first song, “Being Boring”.  Barely scraping into the UK top 20 at the time, it has been a firm fan favourite ever since including for this writer who used in a poetry assignment in grade 11. Updating the nostalgia of The Beatles’ “In My Life” for the HIV epidemic era, the lyrics of “all the people that I was kissing, some are here and some are missing” are particularly heartbreaking.

As with other releases in the Further Listening re-releases the second disc is devoted to different mixes of the hits and corresponding B-sides.  For Behaviour, the second disc often outshines the original album by extending “Being Boring” to nearly 11 minutes and adding a new middle section to “So Hard”.  Sweeping strings and a Beatlesque trumpet announce the beginning of “Jealousy” before it goes into the more familiar track. Also included is the 1991 cover of U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You)” that amps up the tension by extending the beginning of the track. 

The Morrissey baiting “Miserablism” was to be put on the original album but wrongly held off as it would have been one of the better album tracks and act as a perfect foil after “So Hard”. “Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend” could have been a single and would have been a floor filler at clubs in the early 90s. Two versions of “DJ Culture” appear at the end as does the 12” version of “Was It Worth It” both of which made their debut on Discography. The latter fairs better but two versions of “DJ Culture” is not needed.  Better is the throbbing bassline in the Chris Lowe sung/talked “We All Feel Better In the Dark (Extended Mix)”.

Going back and reevaluating Behaviour to discover some very good album tracks is the great thing about these types of re-releases.  The Further Listening disc is the best one released thus far in the series and is at times a more engaging listen than the actual album.  The B-sides are superb and the extended versions mostly improve but never takeaway from the originals.  This was another fine release for Tennant/Lowe.

Behaviour – 8.5/10

Further Listening – 9/10

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