dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Pet Shop Boys' 'Bilingual' At 16: Hit And Miss

Many Pet Shop Boys albums have been released in the fall, and several of them have arrived in September, including Actually, Very, Bilingual and the duo's upcoming LP Elysium. Today actually marks the 16-year anniversary of their sixth studio album Bilingual, which was released in the UK on September 2, 1996 (and in the US a day later).

Bilingual was an album I personally struggled to enjoy when it came out, though I did try for a good year or so. Very — which I've talked about at length before — arrived when I was still an impressionable teenager, a year away from going off to university. It was bright and exciting. Bilingual was darker and, in typical fashion, the PSBs had veered off in a completely different direction, musically. I was now starting my final year of college and, I think, feeling a bit divided over where I belonged — I felt exhausted after 17 years of education and eager to see it end; but I was also unsure of what the "real world" would be like.

Anyway, there was a record store on my university's campus called Vibes, and I stood in line at midnight to buy Bilingual. I stayed up till about 2 a.m. playing it in my room — a single, as it were — in my residence hall. Overall, I think I was hoping the album was going to be Very 2. Which, of course, it wasn't.

Oh, well — "A Red Letter Day" and "Up Against It" were, at least, instant classics to my ears, and I later grew to really enjoy tracks like "The Survivors", "It Always Comes As A Surprise" and "To Step Aside." And now, 16 years later, I think I've even found some appreciation — some — for lead single "Before."



  • At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Seanti said…

    Really? I always loved "Before," especially the Love to Infinity remix. "Se A Vida E," on the other hand, took awhile for me to warm up to. (The video helped immeasurably.)

  • At 1:16 AM, Blogger Karsten Pflum biggest fan said…

    Good article. I could have signed under it though I'm a couple years younger but still your emotions well apply to me, too.

  • At 11:27 PM, Blogger Todd said…

    I love this album. I really never liked Before either but I also liked the Love to Infinity remix. I love Se A Vida E and Red Letter Day. And Up Against It is my favorite single--of any artist--of all time.

    So far I'm underwhelmed by the two tracks I've heard from Elysium. I hope I'm wrong!

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger dishy said…

    hate to say it but this will be the first PSBs release I don't pre-order....kind of bored with them

  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger Sean said…

    I always liked Metamorphosis & Electricity. Se A Vide E sounded forced to me or something. I liked this album.

  • At 9:06 AM, Blogger D'luv said…

    Seanti & Sean, I agree - 'Se A Vida E' always sounded very try-hard. I can live without it.

    Todd & dishy, the new album is a grower, but it's infinitely better than 'Release' and 'Nightlife', if you ask me.

  • At 3:59 PM, Blogger Daft Monk said…

    I was so excited about Bilingual that I bought the "Before" single on CD, vinyl and cassingle. Not sure that there was any particular advantage to that but since I was doing college radio at the time I used the bonus beats as my background music. It's one of those albums that has aged better outside of my pre-release expectations. "Up Against It" was an early favorite but the opening tracks and "Saturday Night Forever" have really stuck with me over the years.

  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger Jebb said…

    And not one of you mentions "Discoteca," which is really the only thing that ever pulls me back to Bilingual. I liked the album more back then than I do now.

  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger Jebb said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home