Looking back at the 20 years since Neil Tennant left England's Smash Hits magazine to form the Pet Shop Boys with Chris Lowe, the two-CD Popart opens itself up for arguments while surpassing 1991's Discography as the ready-to-wear selection. All the growing up and becoming more emotionally focused that the duo did post-Discography could have yielded a dour hits collection, but putting new tracks like the plaintive "I Get Along" between the slick chestnuts "West End Girls" and "So Hard" works to the listener's advantage. The tropical and wistful "Single-Bilingual" and the clever and melancholy "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" add more latter-day treasures that Discography couldn't include, and the only thing left to do besides submit is argue about the details. There is one disc full of "Pop" moments and the other "Art," but just try to figure out the criteria. The two new songs (the austere electro of "Miracles" and the fair "Flamboyant") are nice enough, but they're not as fully formed as their surroundings, making them obvious late additions. A little bit of text and history in the liner notes would have helped, and fans should be aware that most of the tracks here appear in album versions rather than single mixes. Of course, compilers need to make decisions, and bookending the collection with the ultra-camp and semi-flippant covers of "Go West" and "Somewhere" could be seen as a comment on how listeners shouldn't worry so much and should just enjoy. Regardless of omissions and decisions, Popart is an excellent, hang-together listen and a better representation of the duo's career than Discography.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2