1987, Music

Actually (1987) by The Pet Shop Boys

Full disclosure: I don’t love synthpop and I don’t like most dance music, electronic or otherwise. So this was likely going to be a chore for me.

I found myself pleasantly surprised by the quality of the songwriting, as there are a few songs here that I suspect would work extremely well in any genre (such as “Rent”). The melodies are uniformly strong and the lyrics are also significantly better than I was expecting from this type of band. (Though I must say I don’t like those lyrics as much as some people seem to…)

But there is no escaping how tied to the ’80s this record is (as most synthpop records are) and bad ’80s keyboards, drum machines and sequencers will likely never convince me of anything. If anything, I need an album such as this to win me over in spite of that stuff. And, though I like some of the songs and think these guys are better than average songwriters than their genre, I can’t say I’m won over in spite of the dated sound.

And I must say yet again that I find myself listening to synthpop from 1981, from 1987, and from 1991 and not really being able to tell much difference between records released years and even a decade apart, beyond the difference in singer’s voices. Given that, I find it hard to listen to a particularly synthpop album that’s supposed to be particularly good without getting bored, unless there’s something about it that really grabs me. Here, the songs just aren’t quite good enough to convince me.


All tracks written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe except as noted.

  1. “One More Chance” Tennant, Lowe, Bobby Orlando 5:30
  2. “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (with Dusty Springfield) Lowe, Tennant, Allee Willis 4:18
  3. “Shopping” 3:37
  4. “Rent” 5:08
  5. “Hit Music” 4:44
  6. “It Couldn’t Happen Here” Tennant, Ennio Morricone, Lowe 5:20
  7. “It’s a Sin” 4:59
  8. “I Want to Wake Up” 5:08
  9. “Heart” 3:58
  10. “King’s Cross” 5:10

PS I appreciate the Morricone, I do.

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