Pet Shop Boys

Back to Mine

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Across two discs, Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant come up with one of the better volumes in the Back to Mine series. The approaches to their respective sets couldn't be more different, yet both prove to be mostly effective. Lowe's disc looks like it was thrown together in fevered haste, as if he had been given an hour's notice before an impromptu late-night gathering at his place. Longtime Pet Shop Boys fans will notice that this disc is stocked with a number of early-'80s dance classics that have been mentioned throughout the years in interviews, including the Flirts' "Passion." Produced by Bobby Orlando, the song was such an inspiration that Lowe has often gone into detail about how there would be no Pet Shop Boys without it. Containing more energy than any other Back to Mine disc, you can see Lowe rifling through his collection, tossing the occasional favorite on to a pile behind him, and thinking of a running order on the fly. The only spot where this method fails is Queen's "The Show Must Go On," which sounds displaced between Justice vs. Simian's "Never Be Alone" (tailor-made for an action scene in a Jamie Oliver cooking program) and Celestial Choir's "Stand on the Word" (a Larry Levan-produced gospel-house prototype capable of moving any body). Tennant's disc, to provide much contrast, must've been pieced together over a longer duration, with deep contemplation and a few rounds of trial and error. The manner in which each track melts into the next makes it obvious that he's had plenty of mix-making experience. His sequence is much more subdued, geared toward the series' original intention, with a very balanced flow through comforting ambient washes, Satie-like pianos, plangent strings, and delicately-strummed acoustic guitars. The mood is uniform, the sources diverse: minimalist German techno pin-ups Closer Musik, meet Romanian film composer Vladimir Cosma; New Zealand's space age Video Kid, meet European romantic Etienne Daho. The common denominator between the two discs, naturally, is Dusty Springfield.

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