The new Pet Shop Boys album was mistakenly released on iTunes.co.uk on Friday, March 20 – three days before its official release date. The record company mix-up at the end of the week before the release meant that pre-order sales for iTunes were not included in calculating this week's chart.
With those extra sales, the new Pet Shop Boys album would have entered the charts at #2. Nonetheless, Yes sold 27,639 copies, so, even without those lost sales, it sold more copies on its first week than any Pet Shop Boys album since their sole number one album, Very, in 1993.
At points last week it looked as if Yes stood a good chance of topping the chart, giving the band their first number one album since 1993’s Very and the second of their 25-year chart career.
This came despite the album being mistakenly released on iTunes.co.uk on Friday, March 20 – three days before its official release date.
In those three days it sold 2,557 copies via iTunes, enough to elevate the album to number two this week, and would have charted at number 86 last week had it been eligible. However, these sales did not qualify for the chart as Official Chart Company rules state that “sales of digital variants will only be eligible for the combined chart in the week of the official release date of corresponding physical variant”.
A spokesman for the group says that the band are “extremely disappointed” at the mishap and also flagged up problems with the physical release of Yes. These include a printing error with the booklet of the two-CD edition, meaning certain pages were printed in the wrong order.
The new Pet Shop Boys album has entered the UK charts at #4, despite early sales speculation that it would top the charts. This is the highest entry for a Pet Shop Boys album since 1996, when Bilingual also entered at number 4. It has also sold more copies on its first week (27,639) than any Pet Shop Boys album since their sole number one album, Very, in 1993.
"Love etc." drops to number 27 in the UK singles chart and Girls Aloud's "Untouchable" has entered the top 100 at number 54 (even though it hasn't been released as a single yet).
Vagabond are in the middle of their tour as main support for James Morrison. If you see them on the James Morrison tour, make sure you pick up one of the snippet CD samplers that are given out at the end of the night as people leave the venue. The 5-track promo sampler includes the following songs:
1. Sweat (Until The Morning) 2. Don't Wanna Run No More 3. I Know A Girl 4. I've Been Wanting You 5. I Said Hello
Mint South has reviewed one of Vagabond's recent shows:
«Second band Vagabond should have been headlining tonight. They really should. Singer Alex Vargos stepped out and immediately stunned the crowd with his spectacular singing voice. Kudos to the rest of the band for turning up to support him, but the music burbled along in the background and was really only there to showcase the vocals. Every note was spot on, every curl and tremble of the voice was well practised and dead correct. Hiding shyly under his mop of hair, concentrated expression and 80s t shirt, Alex really is the ideal front-man; perhaps purchased in flat-pack form from the new IKEA.
The bassline led a merry dance in the background with the odd soulful blast of brass. The band are signed to Geffen (single ‘Sweat (Until The Morning)’ was given an airing tonight) and it’s easy to see why: their radio-friendly sounds combined with the perfect voice, non-offensive sound and easy on the eye appearance would make any record label executive give thanks upon receiving their demo. With such a big sound in such a small room, they would do well at an open-air gig or as a stadium support act – and maybe one day will be headlining there themselves.»
The highly collectable 7'' vinyl of Toddla T's remix of "Sweat (Until The Morning)" is available to buy from these stores:
Toddla T's remix blurs the line between dubstep, dancehall and breaks, and features MCing from Mr. Versatile.
Culturedeluxe has published a review of the "Sweat (Until The Morning)" remixes:
«Multinational group Vagabond (Uruguay-Denmark-London-erm, Huddersfield) look set to score high with new single `Sweat (Until The Morning)` despite the original mix sounding like the Lighthouse Family making a comeback with a depressed Tina Turner on vocals. However, the intelligent sods have managed to rope in three very different productions for a rather nifty remix package and it is to this we turn our attention solely.
The first of three mixes (six if you include the instrumentals) is a pleasant but uninspiring mix of glitch and dancehall from Toddla T with additional toasting from Mr Versatile while Plugs make the best use of the vocals on a sunkist, Balaeric re-imagination.
Best of all is the Filthy Dukes `Vocal` Mix which replaces nearly all of the pedestrian original with pulsing synth screeches, Vince Clarke bleepery and sleek house craftmanship. By far the best way to enjoy Vagabond this Spring.»
Vagabond did an acoustic performance of "Sweat (Until The Morning)" for Balcony TV. Watch it here.
According to Xenomania's official MySpace, Vagabond will be shooting the video for their next single in the next couple of weeks (possibly in the US again).
Mini Viva are confirmed to play live on the Popjustice stage at this year's Camden Crawl, on April 24th. More than 150 artists will perform at the festival at 40 venues around the London borough. This year, the event will take place on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th April.
Ticket holders will be granted unlimited access to all official festival venues featuring more than 150 live artists, daytime activities, arts programme and aftershow parties. Tickets for the Gaymers Camden Crawl 2009, available as either 2-day or single day passes, are on sale now.
Frankee Connolly and Britt Love (aka Mini Viva) began gathering attention last year with the Fred Falke remixes of their single "Left My Heart In Tokyo". Since then, the song has also been remixed by Treasure Fingers and Acid Girls. Xenomania's official MySpace has revealed that the remixes of "Left My Heart In Tokyo" will be available to download from April 6th.
Below is a live version of "Left My Heart In Tokyo", edited from a couple of live performances at London's Water Rats venue:
Mini Viva are joined live by Florrie Arnold (drums), Jason Resch (guitar) and Kieran Jones (bass).
The video for "Untouchable" premiered today. In the video, Girls Aloud are inside five glass spheres that are falling toward Earth. The effects-heavy video is said to be inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Speaking to the Daily Star about the song, Sarah Harding said: «When we first heard the new single we thought it was so Nineties, a proper pop dance song. It’s got that trancy, chilled Ibiza feel. I get lost in the music at the beginning and then it builds and builds and builds. You just want to go mental.»
"Untouchable" is released as a single on April 27th.
Pet Shop Boys are facing a close battle with Ronan Keating as they look to score their first number one album in the UK in more than 15 years.
The duo’s new Parlophone-issued album Yes is presently around 1,200 units ahead of Keating’s Polydor release Songs For My Mother, according to early retail reports, but the story is made more complicated by the PSB album having accidentally ended up on iTunes three days early last week.
It is understood around 2,500 sales of the album achieved on the Apple site following its premature release there last Friday will not count towards this coming week’s chart as they will be recognised as sales from last week instead.
Pet Shop Boys, who won the outstanding contribution award at this year’s Brits, have only topped the albums chart once before. Very reached number one in October 1993.
Top 5 albums right now:
1 Yes PET SHOP BOYS 11,595 2 Songs For My Mother Ronan Keating 10,352 3 Only By The Night KINGS OF LEON 7,777 4 The Fame LADY GAGA 7,298 5 The Collection ANNIE LENNOX 6,467
The double-CD version, Yes etc., is only available on CD. Pet Shop Boys' official web site says that stocks are limited, although more copies are already being pressed due to demand from retailers. Yes etc. (the one with the black cover) features a new song, "This used to be the future", produced by Xenomania and featuring guest vocals from Philip Oakey of The Human League, as well as six instrumental dub mixes of songs from Yes. Definitely worth buying, as "This Used To Be The Future" is completely album-worthy and the dubs are inventive recreations of the original songs.
The full track-listing of Yes etc. is as follows:
1. This used to be the future 2. More than a dream (Magical dub) [remixed by Xenomania/Pet Shop Boys] 3. Pandemonium (The stars and the sun dub) [remixed by Xenomania/Pet Shop Boys] 4. The way it used to be (Left of love dub) [remixed by Xenomania/Pet Shop Boys] 5. All over the world (This is a dub) [remixed by Xenomania/Pet Shop Boys] 6. Vulnerable (Public eye dub) [remixed by Xenomania] 7. Love etc. (Beautiful dub) [remixed by Xenomania]
The new Pet Shop Boys album has been receiving positive responses from all over the press, with ratings ranging from 3/5 to 4.5/5.
Eye Weekly writes that Yes is «the poppiest, most accessible record the band have recorded since Very in 1992», while musicOMH says that «they're unleashing their most exuberant album in years», an «upbeat, insanely catchy album that contains barely a dull moment». The reviewer adds that Yes is «one of their best», «a super-concentrated hit of everything there is to enjoy about the Pet Shop Boys: danceable yet everyday pop, with irony behind the warmth and warmth behind the irony».
Digital Spy says that «at Yes's heart is a clutch of utterly joyous pop songs» and that collaborating with Xenomania «hasn't goaded the Pets into trying anything undignified. Yes sounds clean, fresh and contemporary but it never tries to get down with the kids». According to BBC News, Xenomania's influence is most apparent in «the heightened, pulsing beats and shiny, space-age sheen that see the Pet Shop Boys keep in touch with the current sound». BBC Music adds that "The Way It Used To Be" and "Love etc." are «the most perfect fusion of Xenomania and Pet Shop Boys sensibilities».
Time Out magazine assesses that «although the finished result is far more reserved than most Xenomaniacal albums, the PSBs' edge has clearly been refreshed by the collaborative process». However, The Independent declares that the Xenomania collaboration «seems at best unnecessary», while The Guardian writes that Yes «neither benefits nor suffers from Xenomania's attentions».
The Scotsman notes that the timing couldn't be better for a Pet Shop Boys comeback (it's not really a comeback, though, is it?): «after all – synthpop is, inescapably, the sound of 2009». «For better or worse, it's exactly what you might expect a Pet Shop Boys album to sound like in 2009», adds the reviewer. GigWise says that, while Yes won't invoke new revelations, «it does reinforce their importance as an asset to an industry they've largely kept at bay».
The new Pet Shop Boys single entered the UK Singles Chart this week at number 14. "Love etc." was co-written and produced by Xenomania. In the top 100 this week are also three other Xenomania-produced singles: the two latest Girls Aloud singles and Alesha's "The Boy Does Nothing".
WHO ARE THEY? A Home Counties quintet who are putting a British spin on the radio-friendly pop-soul of Maroon 5.
WHY THE FUSS? Fronted by gruff-voiced Alex Vargas, Vagabond are the latest chart contenders to spring from the Xenomania hit factory, the home of Girls Aloud. They have been honing their skills on the live circuit for the past six months and this week started a UK tour supporting James Morrison.
WHAT'S THE STORY? Curly-haired frontman Alex has family roots in Yorkshire and Denmark, but he formed Vagabond in Kent, recruiting guitarists Stephen Carter and Luke Fitton, bassist Sam Odiwe and drummer Karl Penney, before crafting a wall of sound with the help of Xenomania's Brian Higgins.
WHAT DO THEY SOUND LIKE? The band's MySpace site lists Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and The Beatles as influences, while their record label Geffen claim, fancifully, that Alex is a cross between Michael Hutchence and Bryan Ferry. In truth, the blue-eyed soul of Mick Hucknall and Steve Winwood is closer to the mark. 'Soul is the thread that runs through everything we do,' says Alex.
WHAT NOW? A single, Sweat (Until The Morning), and the band's debut album, You Don't Know The Half Of It, are out in May. The songs veer between brassy, laid-back funk - the sort of thing that might go down well in a suburban wine bar - and more up-tempo, synth-driven pop. 'You can't listen to one or two tracks and think you know what we are all about,' says Alex. 'You've got to hear the whole package.'
To be accurate, their debut album is out June 22nd, preceded by the single "Sweat (Until The Morning)" (June 8th).
Click here to be added to the official Vagabond mailing list and download a free mp3 of "I Said Hello", a song from their debut album You Don't Know The Half Of It.
Vagabond are one of the acts being launched by Xenomania and are signed to Geffen Records. Their debut album, produced by Brian Higgins, is out June 22nd, preceded by the single ‘Sweat (Until The Morning)’ (June 8th). The video for the single was shot in the Mojave Desert and directed by Paul Minor (Muse, Editors, Glasvegas). Vagabond have been confirmed as the main support to James Morrison on his 15 date UK Spring tour, which starts today. These are the dates:
March 2009 Thu 19th Manchester, Apollo Fri 20th Manchester, Apollo Sat 21st Bristol, Colston Mon 23rd Glasgow, O2 Academy Tue 24th Newcastle, O2 Academy Thu 26th Portsmouth, Guildhall Fri 27th Exeter, Uni Great Hall Sat 28th Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn Mon 30th London, Hammersmith Apollo Tue 31st London, Royal Albert Hall
April 2009 Thu 2nd Leeds, O2 Academy Fri 3rd Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall Sat 4th Birmingham, O2 Academy Mon 6th Sheffield, O2 Academy Tue 7th Bournemouth, Bic
Vagabond have recently started a competition whereby the winner gets remixed by the band. The selected track will be remixed by Vagabond, and given away through a Universal Music download source. The competition is restricted to college students.
The interviews keep on coming. And the word "Xenomania" is always gently pronounced by Neil Tennant in every single one of them. Pet Shop Boys' official YouTube channel has uploaded the first half of an interview about the making of their new album. They mostly talk about the process of working with Xenomania:
Neil Tennant: «I liked the way Brian Higgins talked about pop music, the way he was interested in really experimenting with pop music, not accepting that there's a defined way you have to go about things. But also, he seemed like a very, very, very strong personality, and I think that's quite a good thing in a producer. Chris and I quite like working with someone who very slightly intimidates us. It felt like a good match. (...)» «The way they write, which is to finish whole songs and then to start all over again and writing different melodies for it and different words, it's very hard work, and it's very disciplined. And it's also slightly chaotic, 'cause there's different bits of songs flying around the building. It was quite an an exhilarating and instructive process.»
About "Love etc.": Chris Lowe: «Xenomania played us a lot of backing tracks and they also had these other ones that Brian and Miranda were keeping them back for themselves, they were gonna do sort of their own dance project [!!?]. And there was one backing track in particular that we both really liked.» Neil: «Chris kept saying to me in the car on the way to the studio in the morning "We're not getting the best one! I want the swing one!". (...) Anyway, they very generously handed over the backing track.»
The best bit from the interview, though? Neil Tennant impersonating Brian Higgins (at around 5'25''):
The latest issue of Attitude magazine (April edition) features a lengthy interview with the Pet Shop Boys, conducted by Colin Crummy.
Chris Lowe, who «positively brightens» at the mention of Xenomania, laughs at the idea that the production team is having its cover blown by the Pet Shop Boys in a series of interviews: «So many people ask what is it like to work with Xenomania. It's a bit like they have a secret bunker in the country.»
«Actually, it's really good fun working with them. Brian Higgins is a real character. They work in a way that is unique to them. He's very forthright; he tells you what he thinks as well», says Chris. «It's a very interesting meeting of forthright minds: Brian Higgins and the Pet Shop Boys. It would have made a great fly on the wall documentary, it really would have», adds Neils Tennant. «Of course we wouldn't do things like that and neither would he.»
Pet Shop Boys say that Brian Higgins talks in the most frank way about their music and career: Chris Lowe: «If you had a fragile ego you wouldn't be able to cope with it. (...) The funniest thing he said about us, I just found it really funny, was that [adopts a Cumbrian accent] "You haven't made a good record since 1989"» [Neil and Chris crack up laughing] Neil Tennant [correcting him]: «'88. Cos it didn't include "It's Alright".»
Neil: «Every day would probably start with Brian and us analyzing someone's career, a record company, record company politics (which are so strange these days anyway) or just talking about music we like. He's got an amazing memory for music, has Brian. And also he's got amazing brain for detail. He'll suddenly stop and say: "Why have you used that word?" and you'll say: "Why, didn't you like it?" and Brian will reply [mock innocently]: "No, just wondering." So he makes you think about it. And you can't sneak anything past him either.»
Chris: «It's an amazing group of people, team of people. There's a couple of kids from Australia in the attic who played bass and drums...» [Kieran Jones and Jason Resch] Neil: «Brian saw them in a bar in Melbourne and now they're in Kent! They've written "The Promise" for Girls Aloud. I think they're only 20.» Chris: «It's just a hive of activity and they have these communal lunches. And everyone in there can do something. So you think someone is just the secretary, but it turns out they are actually a fantastic drummer. And most people can do everything.» Neil [excitedly]: «And then there's [the] acts coming through. [...] two Geordie girls called Mini Viva who at lunchtime do a performance for everyone. It's completely rivetting.»
Mini Viva's single "Left My Heart in Tokyo" also gets a mention in Attitude magazine, in the "Turn Ons" section. The girls are described as a "modern-day Mel & Kim":
"This used to be the future" appears on the bonus CD of the special edition of the new Pet Shop Boys album Yes. It's produced by Xenomania and features vocals by Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe and guest vocalist Philip Oakey (from The Human League). Yes is released on March 23rd.
Pet Shop Boys' new single, "Love etc.", is now on sale. The "Love etc." two-track CD single (including a new song, "Gin and Jag") and a five-track CD of mixes are on sale in shops and from online retailers. "Love etc." is now priced at £0.50 on 7Digital.
The song was written with, and produced by, Xenomania, and was planned as the first single from early on in the sessions for the new Pet Shop Boys album. «We worked on that song from May last year until just before Christmas,» Neil Tennant told Music Week. «Brian [Higgins] kept endlessly tweaking it, but I’ve never got sick of it. It sounds like us, without really being like anything else we have ever done.”
The single has been very well received and is being acclaimed as the duo's best single in many years. Read a few bits from reviews:
musicOMH: «their catchiest single in years, cocks an elegant snook at the high life.»
Music Week: «a promising first card to play – a hook-stuffed but understated Xenomania co-creation with a fascinatingly peculiar, call-and-response chorus.»
The Sunday Mail: «a lovely bit of electro pop. It's uplifting, catchy and dancey.»
Virgin Music: «the middle aged men of pop have, along with Xenomania, created a right old proper pop sensation.»
Prefix Mag: «it finds the duo staying a lot truer to the quality and form of their earlier work than a lot groups working on their third decade together.»
"Love Etc." is a song written by Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, Brian Higgins, Miranda Cooper, Tim Powell & Owen Parker and produced by Xenomania. Credited on programming & keyboards are Chris Lowe, Fred Falke, Sacha Collisson, Brian Higgins, Matt Gray, Tim Powell and Owen Parker (who also plays guitar).
Two EPs are available on iTunes and other digital stores. The tracklistings are:
1. Love etc. 2. We're all criminals now 3. Vulnerable 4. Did you see me coming?
1. Love etc. (Pet Shop Boys mix) 2. Love etc. (Gui Boratto mix) 3. Love etc. (Kurd Maverick mix) 4. Love etc. (Frankmusik Star & Garter dub)
"Vulnerable" and "Did you see me coming?" are from the new album Yes, which is released next week.
Speaking to Digital Spy, Neil Tennant expressed his concerns about how the new Pet Shop Boys will be received: «I think we're anxious about how it's going to sell - people actually buying it is the ultimate reaction. I'm very confident about the quality of the album, but my worry has always been with regard to the pop internet circles. When you say Pet Shop Boys are making a record with Xenomania, it sets up an expectation which can't possibly be fulfilled. They're literally expecting the best album ever.»
Neil says that they met Brian Higgins back in April last year, got on "very well with him" and really liked the whole Xenomania setup: «They're based at a large house in Kent - the house that the real Alice In Wonderland lived in. There's different people working in every single room - two guys in the attic working on rhythm tracks, a guy below who used to do music for The KLF [Nick Coler], a guy who comes in three days a fortnight who's got something to do with Daft Punk [Fred Falke]. Then there's Brian downstairs in the sitting room listening to tapes, Pet Shop Boys in the kitchen, Girls Aloud trooping through, ducks wandering in from the garden... It is quite amazing and we felt totally at home there.»
Neil Tennant told BBC News that he regards Xenomania as «the best pop producers in Britain at the moment». «They don't just sit on their laurels,» he says. «They're always trying to do something different. They're not just genre hopping, they're doing things because they want to keep changing the sound. I think you've really got to admire that. Some people just do the same thing over and over again, and they don't.»
Ian Young from the BBC writes that Xenomania's influence «is most apparent in the heightened, pulsing beats and shiny, space-age sheen that see the Pet Shop Boys keep in touch with the current sound».
Last month, Music Week published an interview with Pet Shop Boys with a few quotes by Brian Higgins. He identifies "The Way It Used To Be" (one of the three Xenomania co-writes) as a personal favourite, citing Neil Tennant's vocal performance as a highlight, while giving credit to his lyrics in general.
«I'm a big admirer of theirs. Particularly, I guess, their earlier work in the Eighties has been an influence on Xenomania. I think Neil's lyrics define the decade in which they broke, in many ways. He is a fantastic commentator on our society and I was keen to get his take on the modern things, so I was gently pushing in that direction», says Higgins.
Miles Leonard from Parlophone believes that Brian Higgins «wanted to go back to what he felt was the direction the Pet Shop Boys had taken in the past, without being retrospective». «There was a real, concerted effort to try to go back to that approach», he adds.
Neil Tennant says that they decided to work with Xenomania because they thought, who better to produce «an amazing electro-pop album», «than an amazing electro-pop production team?». A phone call was followed by a lengthy discussion and an exchange of recent music. Brian Higgins was happy once the duo had agreed to co-write some additional songs and demonstrated that they were game for Xenomania's deconstructive production process.
«They allowed us to experiment, and experiment, and experiment with the various bits and pieces, and they were very objective about that,» says Higgins. «We want to push things as far as we can, and you have to be given the freedom to do that without people panicking, but they came in every day with a wonderful spirit.»
Music Week writes that there is «a sense that the Pet Shop Boys are too clever, too good and too engrained in the pop landscape to leave it at that». «That is how I sort of look at it,» says Brian Higgins. «It is very difficult to reclaim things in the music business – it's hard to do that. Certainly, they are a very successful touring group. But I think there's a sleeping giant there, and I hope that we can awaken it.»
Fan-favourite "Untouchable" will be released as a single on April 27th. The album version of the song clocks in at near 7 minutes, so apparently it needed to be "edited". Here's the retouched radio version of the song:
The major differences: - The song is 3 minutes shorter than the original. - The vocals have been edited: some verses are missing, Sarah replaces some of Nicola's and Cheryl's bits. - Most of the vocals are processed, probably auto-tuned. - There's some extra instrumentation/electro madness in the background, the song feels more danceable. - The middle 8 (the "beautiful robots dancing alone" part) has guitar sounds. - The chorus isn't repeated at the end. - The song doesn't end with a fade-out.
Vagabond's debut video "Sweat (Until The Morning)" is set in the Mojave desert. The video, shot by Paul Minor, sees them driving a car, sitting down, walking around and rolling in the sand with a blonde model. "Soulful", indeed.
"Sweat (Until The Morning) is out on June 8th. Watch the video below:
The Sun reports that last night Vagabond were forced to delay the start of their London gig due to overcrowding. People were queuing outside The Water Rats in King's Cross for almost an hour as the venue reached capacity.
Here's Vagabond playing "Sweat (Until The Morning)" in the "Purple Room" at Xenomania:
Pet Shop Boys are the guests on this week's Guardian Music Weekly podcast. Click here to download or listen to the podcast.
In the interview, Neil Tennant says that with Xenomania «it's the most unusual way of working». He describes Xenomania's headquarters as being a bit "chaotic" sometimes and gives a rundown of some of the things that happen inside the house:
- all the rooms upstairs have a different studio setup - in the attic there's "two young Australian guys" playing guitars and keyboards (Jason Resch and Kieran Jones) - in other room there's "people working with mixing and lots of programming" (among them are Tim Powell and Nick Coler - who used to work with The KLF in the early '90s). - there's "a french guy" (Fred Falke) - in another room, a guy who records the vocals mainly and who's "a very good engineer" (Matt Tait?) - «people keep coming in and handing him memory sticks with a new bit of a song on and he listens to it and grades it»
With this setup, the Pet Shop Boys had to keep taking turns from one bedroom to another: «Sometimes we might be in different bedrooms. I might be doing vocals with Matt in one room, and on the other end of the corridor Chris is with Tim working on programming or something.» Neil revealed that every now and then «there's a meeting downstairs where they go through all the different projects». «When we were there, Girls Aloud's album was being finished and that was the priority, 'cos it was coming out that year. They also had their own bands developing and Alesha's album», Neil explained in the interview.
«It was exciting because while we were there "The Promise" was on the radio, Alesha's single "The Boy Does Nothing" was ALL OVER the radio, and they were having a big hit at the time with Gabriella Cilmi. So Brian Higgins would be looking at radio charts and things». At this point, Paul MacInnes (the Guardian interviewer) asked whether Brian Higgins looked triumphant. Neil replied: «He looks quietly satisfied, he doesn't really do triumphant».
Chris Lowe said that they were looking forward to writing songs with Xenomania: «It's quite interesting seeing how other people write the songs, we were really up for that. It's quite an interesting challenge. It was fascinating really, 'cos they write songs in such a different way than we do, and we've taken quite an awful lot away from it. They will keep on working the song, trying more melodies and trying more lyrical ideas, switching them around the song, and they'll just keep on pushing, and pushing, and pushing, until they've tried everything that can go there».
There's a a funny part in the interview when Neil Tennant is talking about the song "More than a dream" and starts singing various different bits. «It was originally a song called "Where the wild things are" and it had a spoken intro and a whole chorus that was based on the dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee [Neil starts singing the main melody riff]. That melody is still on the record but Miranda Cooper thought it was crap - because it was, it was a bit corny. We were going to scrap this song and then Chris wrote a bit of a melody (...), and suddenly Brian loved the savage contrast between the optimistic riff and this very European-sounding melody. The PSB melodies are more lugubrious, they've got more nerve and a bigger range, whereas Xenomania really got the pop riffs».
«With their songs, the song isn't really totally evident until the record is 70% made. I can wake up in the morning and finding myself singing something and then think "oh... it's 'The next big thing', the song we wrote with Xenomania that's never been recorded, that's lurking around on various memory sticks down in Kent. I quite like that song [laugh]».
The Pet Shop Boys consider Yes to be «a bit like a greatest hits record», with a sort of a «and the beat goes on concept»: «We wanted to have very, very, very strong melodic songs with strong ideas one after the other, and we wanted Xenomania because we wanted it to be electro-pop all the way through. So there's a linking sound, this album really hangs together».
This appears to be a complete list of the people who worked on the new Pet Shop Boys album (although it doesn't include writing credits):
Love etc. 03:31 Neil Tennant: vocals Chris Lowe: programming & keyboards Fred Falke: programming & keyboards Sacha Collisson: programming & keyboards Brian Higgins: programming & keyboards Xenomania: backing vocals & production Matt Gray: programming & keyboards Tim Powell: programming & keyboards Owen Parker: programming, keyboards & guitars
All over the world 03:50 Neil Tennant: vocals Chris Lowe: programming & keyboards Brian Higgins & Xenomania: production Matt Gray: programming & keyboards Tim Powell: programming & keyboards Andy Brown: Brass Arrangement & Conductor Owen Parker: programming & keyboards
Beautiful people 03:41 Neil Tennant, Programming & Keyboards Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Cathy Thompson, Conductor Johnny Marr, Harmonica & Guitars Pete Gleadall, Programming & Keyboards Matt Gray, Programming & Keyboards Nick Coler, Programming, Keyboards & Guitars Tim Powell, Backing Vocals, Programming & Keyboards Andy Brown, Conductor Owen Parker, Backing Vocals, Programming, Keyboards & Guitars Jason Resch, Programming, Keyboards & Guitars Kieran Jones, Programming, Keyboards & Guitars Carla Marie Williams: Backing Vocals Jessie Malakouti: Backing Vocals Alex Gardner: Backing Vocals Owen Pallett: Orchestral Arranger
Did you see me coming? 03:41 Neil Tennant, Programming & Keyboards Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming) Johnny Marr, Guitars Brian Higgins, Programming & Keyboards Nick Coler, Programming, Keyboards & Guitars Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming Owen Parker, Guitars
Vulnerable 04:47 Neil Tennant, Programming & Keyboards Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Fred Falke, Keyboards & Programming Pete Gleadall, Keyboards & Programming Brian Higgins, Producer, Keyboards & Programming Xenomania, Production Nick Coler, Keyboards & Programming Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming
More than a dream 04:56 Neil Tennant, Vocals Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Sacha Collisson, Guitars Keyboards & Programming Brian Higgins, Backing Vocals Xenomania, Production Matt Gray, Keyboards & Programming Miranda Cooper, Backing Vocals Tim Powell, Backing Vocals, Keyboards & Programming Jason Resch, Guitars, Keyboards & Programming Kieran Jones, Guitars, Keyboards & Programming Alex Gardner, Backing Vocals
Building a wall 03:49 Neil Tennant, Keyboards & Programming Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming) Johnny Marr, Guitars Jeremy Wheatley, Mixer Xenomania, Production Matt Gray, Keyboards & Programming Nick Coler, Keyboards & Programming Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming Jason Resch, Guitars, Keyboards & Programming Kieran Jones, Keyboards & Programming
King of Rome 05:31 Neil Tennant, Keyboards & Programming Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Pete Gleadall, Keyboards & Programming Mike Kearsey, Brass Xenomania, Production Matt Gray, Keyboards & Programming Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming Jason Resch, Guitar, Keyboards & Programming Kieran Jones, Keyboards & Programming Steve Hamilton, Brass
Pandemonium 03:42 Neil Tennant, Keyboards & Programming Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Johnny Marr, Harmonica & Guitars Pete Gleadall, Keyboards & Programming Mike Kearsey, Brass Xenomania, Backing Vocals & Production Nick Coler, Keyboards & Programming Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming Owen Parker, Guitars Jason Resch, Guitars Steve Hamilton, Brass Mark Parnell, Drums
The way it used to be 04:43 Neil Tennant, Keyboards & Programming Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Sacha Collisson, Guitars Xenomania, Production Matt Gray, Keyboards & Programming Nick Coler, Guitars, Keyboards & Programming Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming Toby Scott, Keyboards & Programming Owen Parker, Keyboards & Programming Jason Resch, Keyboards, Programming & Guitars Kieran Jones, Keyboards & Programming Carla Marie Williams, Guest Vocals
Legacy 06:22 Neil Tennant, Keyboards & Programming Chris Lowe, Keyboards & Programming Cathy Thompson, Orchestra Leader Pete Gleadall, Keyboards & Programming Xenomania, Production Matt Gray, Keyboards & Programming Nick Coler, Keyboards & Programming Tim Powell, Keyboards & Programming Andy Brown, Orchestral Conductor Jason Resch, Keyboards & Programming Kieran Jones, Keyboards & Programming Owen Pallett, Orchestral Arranger
"Pet Shop Boys Story: 25 Years Of Hits", is given away in the UK today, with the Mail on Sunday newspaper. The 11-track career retrospective includes "Did you see me coming?" from the forthcoming album Yes, produced by Brian Higgins/Xenomania.
The cover artwork is designed by Farrow and 2.2 million copies will be distributed following a TV advertising campaign.
The CD offers access to snippets of the album (5 tracks) and the opportunity to enter a competition to win tickets for the Pet Shop Boys O2 concert. However, the promotion is only available to the UK.
The full track-listing is: 1 West End Girls (10" Mix) 2 Paninaro (7" Mix) 3 It's A Sin (Disco Mix) 4 What Have I Done To Deserve This? (7" Mix) 5 Jealousy (7" Mix) 6 Being Boring (7" Mix) 7 Go West (7" Mix) 8 Before (7" Mix) 9 Home And Dry (7" Mix) 10 Flamboyant (7" Mix) 11 Did You See Me Coming?
Pet Shop Boys are on the cover of the latest issue (April edition) of The Word magazine. There's a review of Yes and a very insightful interview conducted by Rob Fitzpatrick. You can subscribe to the magazine here.
Here's a few highlights from the interview, when they speak about working with Xenomania:
Neil Tennant: «[Xenomania] told me they had been thinking about what the Pet Shop Boys were meant to sound like. The first thing they wrote was "The Loving Kind", which Chris didn't like, so that went straight to Girls Aloud.»
Is it true that you were given a list of song titles and told to go away and write the lyrics? Neil Tennant: «Yes, I was rather surprised by this. (...) I was a bit miffed, because Brian didn't ask me if I had any titles. Chris looked at the list and liked "The Loving Kind", but it was difficult. Then we sat around with dictaphones singing up a few ideas. It was just fist-bitingly embarrassing.»
Chris Lowe: «I was banished - sent upstairs. And it was great, because I ended up in the room that had all the backing tracks playing and I could just write melody lines.(...) We learned a lot. We learned to consider everything. Usually, when we write a melody that's it - we cross it off and leave it alone, whereas they write multiple melodies on the same backing track. Now we wring out every last good bit from a tune, whereas before we'd usually write one melody and one set of lyrics and go, "That's done. Lunch?"
Neil Tennant: «(...) It's completly cross-generational. Some of the things we would consider obvious and tired - those '80s synth lines - sound fresh and new to them.» Chris Lowe: «They love our '80s stories. A phrase you hear a lot at Xenomania is, "Go on! Tell us another '80s one!"»
Neil Tennant: «On "Love Etc." Brian and I had a very heated debate. He wanted the chorus to happen twice at the start to establish it. I agreed, but insisted it had different lyrics. Well, he was having none of it. And neither was I. You can't just repeat it - it'll be boring! I thought his head was going to blow off. (...) We agreed we'd put in a different line. Luckily, I had one ready prepared...»
In the UK airplay chart, "Love etc." moves up from 37 to 19.
In the latest Cool Cuts charts, "Love etc." is number 1, up from number 3. The Cool Cuts chart is "the UK’s leading tastemaker dance chart compiled from reactions from tastemaker DJs and the Cool Cuts panel". It is published in Music Week magazine.
Pet Shop Boys in the press:
Pet Shop Boys will be on the cover of this month's Word magazine, next week's Guardian weekend magazine, plus forthcoming features in the Daily Telegraph, Observer Music Monthly and the NME.
"Pet Shop Boys Story: 25 Years of Hits", will be given away in the UK next Sunday, March 8th, with the Mail On Sunday newspaper.
Pet Shop Boys in the shops:
Pet Shop Boys' new album, Yes, is now available for pre-order on iTunes. If you order it before its release date of March 23rd, you get a bonus track with the album: Stuart Price's production of the Pet Shop Boys nine-and-a-half minutes Brits medley. This is only available on iTunes up to the release of the album. The iTunes bundle also includes Pet Shop Boys' dub mix of "Love etc." and an audio commentary in which Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe talk through the whole album.
In the US Pet Shop Boys release Yes on the Astralwerks label on April 21st.
Preview the new Pet Shop Boys album:
Listen to a clip (1'20'') of "Pandemonium" on this video of Pet Shop Boys rehearsing for their Brits 2009 performance.
7digital has put up new snippets of Yes, different from the iTunes ones.
The Popjustice/Pet Shop Boys Yes playback at the ICA - followed by a Q&A session - is tonight. For those that weren't selected, Popjustice promises to "do a thing on the site" next week telling you what happened.
Next Sunday (March 8th), British newspaper The Mail on Sunday offers a Pet Shop Boys career retrospective CD. It will be an opportunity to listen to "Did You See Me Coming?", one the songs from Pet Shop Boys' new album.
Pet Shop Boys Story: 25 Years of Hits will be freely distributed with the newspaper. The cover artwork is designed by Farrow and 2.2 million copies will be distributed following a TV advertising campaign.
Besides previewing a new song from Yes, the greatest hits will also include the rare 10-inch mix of "West End Girls".
This is the tracklist:
1. West End girls (10" mix) 2. Paninaro (7" mix) 3. It's a sin (Disco mix) 4. What have I done to deserve this? (7" mix) 4. Jealousy (7" mix) 5. Being boring (7" mix) 6. Go West (7" mix) 7. Before (7" mix) 8. Home and dry (7" mix) 9. Flamboyant (7" mix) 10. Did you see me coming?
Xenomania is a songwriting and production house based in Kent, England. It was founded by songwriter and producer Brian Higgins.
Since 1996, Xenomania have written, produced and remixed tracks for a string of successful artists including Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys, Sugababes, Dannii and Kylie Minogue, Saint Etienne, Cher, Gabriella Cilmi and many others.