Why is it, right, that everyone who’s great, and that’s [I]everyone[/I], goes crap in the end? Boredom? Exhaustion? Or is it merely Nature, the first rule of the universe (voice of Charlton Heston): “As each thing blooms to perfection, already it begins to die.”
Or – in pop culture terms – be brilliant, change the world and spend the next 20 years in the shadow of your own eclipsed sun making a berk of yourself to a generation who do not care and know you only as old folks with terrible hair. If the only saviour is reinvention, the [a]Pet Shop Boys[/a] have stoically stayed the same, except got camper which, sadly, could never be enough and their all-new Liam-out-the-Prodigy fright-wig folly cannot save them now.
Fifteen years in and their seventh album, ‘Nightlife‘, is a thin and waftsome Mediterranean discotheque concept caper about the grand paradox of love (it’s bollocks/brilliant etc). The singles, ‘I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More‘ (good evening, Manic Street Preachers) and ‘New York City Boy‘ (comedy Village People palaver), are mere pointers to the flimsy glum-pop frolics elsewhere; ‘Closer To Heaven‘ (dreary Dannii Minogue trance-out lather); ‘Happiness Is An Option‘ (toasted East 17 waffle, Brian-styled rap); ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk‘ (holiday bistro guitars) and on through film score theatrics (‘Vampires‘) to the realisation that Neil Tennant, the sometime Nokl Coward Of Pop Pathos, simply cannot be bothered any more. Witness ‘In Denial‘ (filmic frothabout featuring Kylie in her latest career as a wheel-her-in muppet of glam-kitsch) and these illuminations on the world gone berserk: [I]”In denial/No!/My life’s a trial/I’m not denying that every little bit hurts/It’s a problem that I’m not solving/ Don’t mind admitting I feel like quitting this job for a while/Getting away before it gets any worse today”[/I]. Hello?
Naturally, it’s very nice and coolly, familiarly comforting but ‘Nightlife‘ is the sound of the sun plummeting on the musical magic of the greatest melancholic-disco duo this country’s ever known; trying too hard and not trying hard enough, bereft of their wit, insight and energy, beyond a parody’s parody into complete insignificance, flailing in the quicksand of ‘Will this do?’ They’ve made, then, their very own ‘Be Here Now‘. And the forthcoming tour set will be magnificent, darlings, to prove it. Tragic, as Neil himself might have it, but inevitable, in a [a]Pet Shop Boys[/a] melancholic-disco way. Maybe it’s a perfect conclusion, after all.