Release Date: 02.04.03
Record label: Sanctuary
The Disco Boys Are Back Again
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent
Somebody give Neil Tennant a compass. The Pet Shop Boys have been wandering in the wilderness for far too long and it appears that their frontman has absolutely no idea which direction they are heading in. Last summer, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe triumphantly toured small UK venues and turned their normally disco-dominated live affairs into a rock ‘n’ roll festival of clichés they previously hated. But on Feb 3 (in the UK, Feb. 4th U.S.), Disco 3 will hit the shops and it appears to steer the synthmeisters back to the shores of Danceland.
Pet Shop Boys have had a fantastic career and furnished the charts with some of the greatest tunes in pop history, but the disco albums they have released alongside their more conformist studio CDs have always been touch and go. Some of them (Disco, Relentless, Introspective) have been true champions of dance, allowing their six tracks extra time to explore some fascinating rhythms. But Disco 2 was a complete disaster, full of cheesy mixes that didn’t deliver the depth you might expect.
Disco 3 (when will this overused title ever end?) is a mix of both the good and the bad of the now-traditional Pet Shop Boys dance CD. There are some terrific moments on here, not least the storming Chris Lowe-led intro of "Time On My Hands," where “17, 18, 19, party” could prove to be a catchy club theme. "Positive Role" model may also get you to reform your best disco moves, the PSB mix of "Here" is worth a listen, while the Superchumbo Mix of b-side "Sexy Northerner" is ace. But that covers just four tracks and seems as there are ten on Disco 3 you don’t need a degree to recognize the shortfall in quality.
This new attempt at keeping the Pets trendy has some real howlers on it. "Try It (I’m In Love With A Married Man)" is abysmal, there are strangely two versions of "London" that both fail to inspire and "If Looks Could Kill" is littered with computer enhanced vocals like all too many of the PSB’s later work.
If Disco 3 had limited itself to just six songs and followed the successful pattern of Relentless and the original Disco, it could have been superb. There are some tremendous tunes that could have benefited from having the extra room to breathe and I’m sure Lowe still has it in him to knock out a classic pop album.
"Time On My Hands" is a classic, the new "Paninaro" perhaps, but there is just not enough to keep the interest. It becomes dull, embarrassing to listen to and woefully weak. As with much of the PSB’s later work, there is potential there that fails to come to the brim. Better luck next time, fellas. 27-Jan-2003