Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

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RichBeard
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Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#1 Post by RichBeard »

Every review I read about this album talks about how rubbish it is, how the pets 'have lost their way' and how it's generally a pile of paaaaaaaaaaaaants. I must be listening to a different album!?!? I've always liked this album, and although it's not a great album, it has it's moments of pure genius, gold and magic.

I think it gets overlooked because the pets had become unfashionable by '99. 80's pop wasn't as cool as it is now!?!? And there were more exciting things happening, in terms of electro-pop. The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers were the new kings of electronics, and I think the pets had become a bit old hat. That said they did play Galstonbury a year later, but certainly it seems as if they'd lost their edge. There weren't considered as dynamic or exciting by maintstream audiences by '99. No top 5 hit from this album, and it didn't make the top 5 in the UK albums chart. Having said all that!?!? I became a big fan from '99 onwards. Discography got me fixed, and, have to say, Nightlife kept me interested, i've always found the Nightlife era to be really strong in terms of songs and imagery.

I love the imagery, especially the album cover. It's probably my favourite psb sleeve. The font style, that i think Mark Farrow created especially, works really well, love the industrial feel. Also i love the look. I think it's genius because they're making themselves look unattractive to promote their music. The eyebrows, the wigs, they're quite baffling, and they do look a bit odd, but i think the genius lies in creating an image that putts people off. I think it's courageous. I'd even go as far as saying it's very punk rock. It's certainly 'anti-pop' and i think it works really well. There's something of the night about the imagery as well, and that of course fits in well with the album's theme.

And then there's the music!!! I used to go to central London a lot and, have to say, if you ipod this album and play it, at night (of course!!?!? lol), it really comes alive. The theme, of a journey through a city at night, works really well. City life is chaotic and full of passionate drama. At night, London starts with enthusiasm, life's upbeat, everyone's out for a good time, and then slowly, as the drugs and alcohol kick in, chaos ensues. The ugliness of the night comes alive. There's phsical and emotional violence, there's love, there's passion, there's danger, there's depression and there's heartbreak. The songs on this album seem to grab some of these things really well for me. They may not grab them explicitly, but they come through in odd sounds, the odd lyric, the odd moment, the odd song. And there's some great vocal's on the album i think - FYOG, CTH, Drunk.. Some great songs. It's not their best work, but there are many great moments, and as an album, it seems very overlooked and underrated.

Top tracks - FYOG, CTH, I don't know what you want but I can't give it any more, You only tell me you love me when you're drunk, Radiophonic, Boy strange, Footsteps..

What does everyone else think.. is Nightlife a stroke of un-noticed genius?? Or is it the pets at their most uninspiring??

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joncool5
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#2 Post by joncool5 »

Their worst album, too glossy and over-produced.
"In the North-west it rains and it rains. And yet we managed to produce the industrial revolution, trade union movement, the Communist Manifesto and even the goddam computer. Down south, where the sun never sets, you took all our money and what did you produce? Chas and f**king Dave." TONY WILSON

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DJ Fairborne
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#3 Post by DJ Fairborne »

I quite like ''Nightlife'', as for me personally it was a return to the more traditional PSB electronic sound, after the disappointing latino & samba drums experiment that ''Bilingual'' turned out to be! There were only the 3 singles from this album, but I don't know what you want but I can't give it any more is quite good - the middle bit is great & the video was good too with PSB transforming into their new 'look' etc. I agree that NYC Boy is proper camp, but it's meant to be that, as it's a tribute to the Village People & is a bit of a disco fun and more-or-less harmless enough. It's not as bad or as explicitly gay as TNIFIL from ''Release'' is for example! Or ''Go West'' & ''Somewhere'', which are both well-known gay anthems etc. Drunk was an interesting foray into country & western and is quite a good song, as it's really a song that can appeal to anyone (as Neil has often said). It was the only Top 10 single from the album too! Shame there wasn't a 4th single, as I always thought FYOG or CTH would've been great singles & could've had some fab remixes too. The b-sides from this era aren't the best, but there were some highlights such as ''Casting A Shadow'' & ''Lies'' is good to hear Chris singing again. I'm looking forward to the FL release of it soon, which I hope we will get sometime in 2010! So, all in all not a bad album - not one of the best, but it doesn't deserve the bad reputation it's always had over the years!...

I do agree with RichBeard in that by '99, PSB were totally unfashionable & were regarded as well past their best. Radio 1 & many other stations had stopped playing their singles & I think the whole gay thing hadn't helped matters either, as I remember reading an interview in ''The Big Issue'' from around that time that one reason NYC Boy didn't get any airplay was because it was ''too gay''! Also, a lot of people I knew who were sort-of casual PSB fans didn't care for the ''Bilingual'' album much & so lost interest after that and didn't even bother to buy or even listen to ''Nightlife''. A lot of 80's artists were struggling by the late 90's though, as Phil Collins, Sting & many more all had unperforming albums, so PSB weren't alone with finding themselves not doing aswell as they had done in the past. The ''Britpop''-era had been & gone, and dance music had been through a lot of changes, being more & more genre-specific, with drum 'n' bass, trance & big beat etc all having their time in the late 90's. PSB's dance sound probably didn't fit into any one category, so a lot of people just saw the name PSB & ignored it, which is a shame.

''Boy Strange'' is awful though!...

whateverman42
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#4 Post by whateverman42 »

The lyrics are vapid and meaningless (which may have been the intention). It gives off a feel of 'please let us be big again' (the rock equivalent being U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind). The songs, while enjoyable, are muddled and the strings seem lost (crispness and perfection usually epitomizing PSB's albums).

Why exactly is it hated? Well, how do you describe something that is uninspired? Its the general lackadaisical, ho-hum feeling the album gives off. Radiophonic moving into The Only One feels like a 'look, we can still do both!' moment, rather than a necessary segue for the album. Compare it with King of Rome into Pandemonium, or Luna Park into I'm With Stupid, and its just not as good. Even Release is better because Pet Shop Boys were doing something different for the hell of it. Nightlife was a blatant attempt to give the public what they thought it wanted for renewed popularity, which stunted its creativity.

Nevertheless, while PSB's worst, its still better than many bands best; the songs are enjoyable, and it probably served as a lesson to PSB, because they haven't sunk as low since.

markus
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#5 Post by markus »

I think what might be considered wrong with it is that music wise it doesn't follow the clear and clean coherent style of the previous albums. The title promises a clubbing/dance music theme, but the music is a bit all over the place. Also it contains some of their gayest and tackiest moments ever: the euro-trashy Dannii Minogue tribute "CTH" the cheesy musical piece "In Denial" and last but not least "New York city boy" That stuff doesn't usually go down well with serious music critics and other snobs, unless being heavily intoxicated. Their image wasn't very rock 'n roll either. Weren't those "cool samurai pants" really just skirts? Were they just having a go at the public, knowing they couldn't win anyway being an 80's band in the year 1999?

I think Nightlife should be approached with a sense of humour, enjoyed in a playful mood, like preparing for a night out, or like when watching the Eurovision song contest. Yup, that's it: Psb doing Eurovision kareoke. That's what Nightlife's all about.
Last edited by markus on Wed 30 Dec 2009, 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#6 Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

I think the songs on Nightlife are weak, but more importantly in my opinion, the PSB's choice of instrumentation around the 1998-2002 period was abysmal. Even though by the time Disco 3 came around, the songs themselves were still quite weak, the instrumentation was much improved. Then when the song writing recovered (although admittedly never back up to the pre-Bilingual era), they'd got the instrumentation back on track for the Pop Art singles, Fundamental and so on, and began delivering quality tunes once more.

Retro. :)

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DJ Fairborne
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#7 Post by DJ Fairborne »

I'd forgotten all about ''In Denial'', which is absolutely awful! It's so cold & clinical, Neil's vocals are weak and even Kylie is crap on it. Thank heavens this wasn't ever a single...

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Ellie
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#8 Post by Ellie »

Personally, Nightlife has never been one of my favourite PSB albums but I think it still has its own kind of understated charm and atmosphere that none of their other albums really have. I also really like the production and I think Neil's voice sounds very beautiful and is quite possibly at its best. I think despite the good production though, the melodies aren't generally as strong as their other albums and that's probably what stops me from liking it as much. It is certainly a very unusual album with a bizarre mixture of songs and seems quite spooky, which was obviously the intended effect.

For me, the song that really stands out on Nightlife, which I think is also very underrated, is Happiness is an Option. I really like songs where Neil "raps" and what I love about this song is that it uses the same kind of musical structure and as modern hip-hop of the time but at the same time sounds completely different from normal hip-hop, which is something PSB have always done well since West End Girls. I think it is very beautiful and poetic, has some great lines and just works extremely well, especially with the Rachmaninoff backing and with Neil half-whispering the verses and singing the backing melody at the end instead of using instrumentation.

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territorygal
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#9 Post by territorygal »

Ellie wrote:For me, the song that really stands out on Nightlife, which I think is also very underrated, is Happiness is an Option. I really like songs where Neil "raps" and what I love about this song is that it uses the same kind of musical structure and as modern hip-hop of the time but at the same time sounds completely different from normal hip-hop, which is something PSB have always done well since West End Girls. I think it is very beautiful and poetic, has some great lines and just works extremely well, especially with the Rachmaninoff backing and with Neil half-whispering the verses and singing the backing melody at the end instead of using instrumentation.
"Happiness Is An Option" is my favourite track on Nightlife, as well.
I think I've read that it was inspired by Notorious B.I.G., or at least his style.
And everything about tonight feels right and so young
And anything I'd want to say out loud will be sung
It's in the music...

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Patrick Bateman
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#10 Post by Patrick Bateman »

In the decade since Nightlife, I've grown to admire the way that PSB went down the dumper with a sense of style. This was a post-Spice Girls pop wasteland in which pre-pubescent Sylvia Young graduates began to dominate the charts. Somewhere in sands of the desert a shape with high trousers and perma-tanned head of a man is slouching towards ITV to be born.

Meanwhile the gay punks on ketamine released their kitsch album; a pastiche of the Pet Shop Boys by the Pet Shop Boys, and yet strangely affecting for that very reason. They should have released Yes in 1999 but somehow the sheer campness of In denial and New York City boy represents the very moment that theatricality becomes over-theatricality. It's a phantasmagorical nightmare with that ever-knowing PSB wink.

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jasonjohn
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#11 Post by jasonjohn »

RichBeard wrote:Every review I read about this album talks about how rubbish it is, how the pets 'have lost their way' and how it's generally a pile of paaaaaaaaaaaaants. I must be listening to a different album!?!? I've always liked this album, and although it's not a great album, it has it's moments of pure genius, gold and magic.

I think it gets overlooked because the pets had become unfashionable by '99. 80's pop wasn't as cool as it is now!?!? And there were more exciting things happening, in terms of electro-pop. The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers were the new kings of electronics, and I think the pets had become a bit old hat. That said they did play Galstonbury a year later, but certainly it seems as if they'd lost their edge. There weren't considered as dynamic or exciting by maintstream audiences by '99. No top 5 hit from this album, and it didn't make the top 5 in the UK albums chart. Having said all that!?!? I became a big fan from '99 onwards. Discography got me fixed, and, have to say, Nightlife kept me interested, i've always found the Nightlife era to be really strong in terms of songs and imagery.

I love the imagery, especially the album cover. It's probably my favourite psb sleeve. The font style, that i think Mark Farrow created especially, works really well, love the industrial feel. Also i love the look. I think it's genius because they're making themselves look unattractive to promote their music. The eyebrows, the wigs, they're quite baffling, and they do look a bit odd, but i think the genius lies in creating an image that putts people off. I think it's courageous. I'd even go as far as saying it's very punk rock. It's certainly 'anti-pop' and i think it works really well. There's something of the night about the imagery as well, and that of course fits in well with the album's theme.

And then there's the music!!! I used to go to central London a lot and, have to say, if you ipod this album and play it, at night (of course!!?!? lol), it really comes alive. The theme, of a journey through a city at night, works really well. City life is chaotic and full of passionate drama. At night, London starts with enthusiasm, life's upbeat, everyone's out for a good time, and then slowly, as the drugs and alcohol kick in, chaos ensues. The ugliness of the night comes alive. There's phsical and emotional violence, there's love, there's passion, there's danger, there's depression and there's heartbreak. The songs on this album seem to grab some of these things really well for me. They may not grab them explicitly, but they come through in odd sounds, the odd lyric, the odd moment, the odd song. And there's some great vocal's on the album i think - FYOG, CTH, Drunk.. Some great songs. It's not their best work, but there are many great moments, and as an album, it seems very overlooked and underrated.

Top tracks - FYOG, CTH, I don't know what you want but I can't give it any more, You only tell me you love me when you're drunk, Radiophonic, Boy strange, Footsteps..

What does everyone else think.. is Nightlife a stroke of un-noticed genius?? Or is it the pets at their most uninspiring??
Thanks heaps for writing this!!!!!!

You've really captured the vibe and why I love this album :)

I think the dividing issue is that some people don't relate to the production

But I love it :) Would not want them to produce every album that way, but glad they did for this one.

Drunk alone is worth the price of admission... and there are some really beautiful and quirky gems on there.

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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#12 Post by Naughty Zoot »

I've always run hot & cold on this album.
Primarily because it seems to have been a somewhat slapdash, calculated side project to the Closer to Heaven musical. Yes, I realize it was released 2 years before the CTH Cast album but it was recorded while PSB were developing the project & includes several numbers that later appeared there - CTH, Vampires & In denial. Cynic that I can sometimes be, it seems as though Our Boys were hoping to create a ready made audience for the stage show -- much like Disney had done by turning their movies into stage shows.
Sadly, I don't think it worked.
Mind you, CTH is solid. Vampires is so-so. And In denial is an absolutely embarrassing failure.
Still, there are another 8 songs that form the album. To me, these run the gamut, but they also seem to be pushing the recognized PSB envelope =
Magnificent: You only tell me you love me when you're drunk
Solid: FYOG.
Intriguing since they aren't what we've been used to but challenge us: The only one. Boy strange. Footsteps
So-so: HIAO. Radiophonic.
Can't stop looking @ it / can't stand looking @ it: I don't know what you want but I can't give it any more
WTF: New York city boy

So__ this might be PSB stretching their artistic wings or it might be Capitalism writ medium. Or both. Or neither. ?!??
As to the visual look of this period ~~ I think that they were exploring ground that Lady GaGa is now exploiting. Namely, the Beautiful High Fashion / Ugliness aesthete. Alas, GaGa does it way better but still, they tried.

Last thoughts: I think N&C were a bit overextended, a bit overexcited & a bit overtired @ this point in their carreer.
Maybe they should have broken with the one word title tradition and called Nightlife >>
There'll be tears before bedtime
I like it here ~~ wherever it is ...

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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#13 Post by MikeyC »

I love it as well and also don't ever fully understand the under-appreciation. While it's not among my top faves, it has some excellent tracks, like 'Closer to Heaven', the much underrated "IDKWYWBICTIA" and "Radiophonic". "New York City Boy" in the current tour also shows how it's actually aged quite well and sounds great in 2010!

Yes it's a darker sound, not as coherent, but certainly does not deserve the harsh criticisms it frequently receives! 8)

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York Minster
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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#14 Post by York Minster »

The lyrics are most certainly not MEANINGLESS on Nightlife. Though they are much more general than usual certainly. For me, Nightlife falls short of an Actually or Please due to less than stellar songwriting. And it is my least favorite PSB album. But I really cherish it anyway. The production for me is possibly one of their best. The Only One SOUNDS great, but the song lets me down. It's not an album for everyday. But when I want something really urban sounding from the boys and the time is right, songs like CTH and Footsteps sounds as good to me as anything.
And tryin' to figure out what happened to 'Germaine Propaine'
"He couldn't have fell off that hard" Ain't no way
"What happened to the way you was rappin' when you was scandalous
That Canibus turned into a television evangelist"
Plus he raps with his regular voice [BOOSH! BOOSH!]
[BOOSH! BOOSH!] (What was that?) Pet Shop Boys

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Re: Nightlife - why is it slated so much?

#15 Post by Undertaker »

I think it's alright but get the impression PSB themselves didn't know what they wanted. It's better than Release and Bilingual but still gets a place in the bottom 3. The video to I don't know what you want but I can't give it any more is one of the better ones of the past decade.

PSB probably needed to produce Nightlife and Release, just so they could come back with the brilliant Fundamental and Yes.

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