Tuesday, May 10, 2011

92. Pet Shop Boys, "Liberation" (1993)


This has always been my favorite song from my favorite Pet Shop Boys album—yes, I like it better than "Dreaming of the Queen," and "To Speak Is a Sin," the two next-closest to it. But I admit it's one that sneaks up on you. I like the wukka-wukka guitar sound that textures and drives it (which incidentally further underlines, along with the Village People cover and other elements, how much this was actually their "disco" album, and not their "rock" album, as originally promised by the perhaps satiric PR). I like the scenario in the lyrics of love finally acknowledged and accepted, and I like that it happens on a car ride late at night, involving the simple expedient of holding hands. And I love the way the orchestral sounds swell right at the moments when the emotional intensity is greatest, which includes the opening, a rapid dive into swirling waters. In the end, it doesn't need much of Neil Tennant's sly irony—virtually none, in fact—nor does it need much of Chris Lowe's production muscle either. It's just a very nice, simple song with a very nice, simple message. I said "simple," not "easy." In fact, I think it may be evidence that either or both of these Pet Shop Boys may well be prone to my own greatest weakness, crippling sentimentalism, played so straight here that it's practically opaque about any other intentions or aims. "The night, the stars / A light shone through the dark.... Your love is liberation, liberation." It might even be characterized as "sincere," if one is inclined to take the position and risk the ridicule.

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