Why do people hate “Before”?

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Drico One
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#46 Post by Drico One » Sun 03 Jun 2018, 1:00 pm

Bilingual is, arguably, their most inconsistent record. The opening is phenomenally intense, with the lonely, dystopian Discoteca merging into the flippant, but still emotionally isolated Single. You could make the case that the protagonist is the same in both tracks, "going out and carrying on as normal" as he jets across Europe doing his business. Sadly, it sort of falls apart then with the ineffably twee Metamorphosis. If this was supposed to be a coming out song, they really made a triviality of it. Electricity is weird enough to keep the interest, but it's an acquired taste - and four tracks into what you thought was a Pet Shop Boys pop album you sort of realise that you've taken a wrong turn in Suburbia and ended up in very unfamiliar territory. Who is this Sarah Videheh girl anyway?

It Always Comes As A Surprise is, like the first two on this record, one of the few tracks that actually works brilliantly. It's thematically consistent and the sentiment is gorgeously romantic. Whereas Se a Vida E was just naff, this is sincere and spine-tingling. Then, the album highlight, A Red Letter Day. Absolutely glorious, life-affirming rocket fuel, another tale of "carrying on as normal", but this time with hope in your heart.

Up Against It is more traditional than much of this album, but has some really tremendous moments. It's a really good album track. The Survivors is also a nice song, but, in my view, suffers from an excess of schmalz - something that regularly blights Bilingual as a whole. For a band originally known as detached, diffident, and distant, there is some major overcompensation going on here - as there was in the second half of Very.

Before works very well in the context of the album, but it just doesn't suit Neil's vocal range. He's got one of the most wonderfully distinctive, and sometimes fragile, voices in pop, but I think this is all wrong for him. Again, some of the lyrical sentiment is fatuous, but the chorus and backing vocals are fantastic. I've always loved To Step Aside, depressing as it is. It's full of energy and drama, but again there is a sense of impending departure about it that, at the time, suggested the game was nearly up. I don't tend to speak about the last track on this album, and is it a contender for all-time career clunker, and would effortlessly find a place in a worst-ever catalogue compilation with Winner, Legacy, and almost anything they did with Elton John.

So, far too patchy an album to really stand up against anything they did before - and most things they did afterwards. Brilliant in places, with three or four outstanding tracks, but cloying elsewhere. It's a crossroads album, and for the next decade they'd explore the wilderness with very mixed results.

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panda magic
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#47 Post by panda magic » Sun 03 Jun 2018, 6:07 pm

A bit curious here - when people complain about Neil singing in a higher range, what exactly is the root of that critique? Seems to me like it's a similar criticism that has been directed over the years at people like Jake Shears, Jimmy Somerville, Andy Bell, Roland Gift, and so on. Wondering if people subconsciously still have a bias against a feminine or androgynous male voice or if they indeed just find it an awkward range for Neil specifically. Because as much as I love it when Neil takes it down an octave for things like The Dictator Decides I also can't deny that "you can fly away to the end of the world" from Love Comes Quickly is one of the most transcendent moments in 80s pop . . .

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Ales PSB
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#48 Post by Ales PSB » Sun 03 Jun 2018, 6:16 pm

I like me this single and the bpnus tracks as "Hit and Miss" and "The Truck-Driver And His Mate" very good
ASM :up: :)

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Drico One
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#49 Post by Drico One » Sun 03 Jun 2018, 6:52 pm

It’s aesthetic preference. Going high on the register can work well if your vocal range allows it - or if it works in isolation, like the segment in Love Comes Quickly. But Neil sings all of the verses of Before like Kermit the Frog on helium - and it does him no favours, in my view. Andy Bell’s vocal range - and act (forest nymph) - is much more suited to this.

So that, or my latent homophobia. Yeah, that’s it.

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Pod
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#50 Post by Pod » Sun 03 Jun 2018, 7:28 pm

No problem with high register voices, but the whole song? Nah...
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SynthMan Wales
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#51 Post by SynthMan Wales » Sun 03 Jun 2018, 11:41 pm

Personally speaking, Before just underwhelmed me on its release.

My best friend (another huge PSB fan) ordered the 12" promos (which I think we heard before hearing the radio mix) and we sat down to listen to them together. Afterwards, we both felt somewhat deflated with only the Extended Joey Negro mix and the Love To Infinity Aphrodisiac Mix hitting the mark.

After the excitement of the Very[ era, Before just seemed a bit bland lyrically and overly polished in that latter day Roxy Music/ Bryan Ferry kind of way.

I quite like the track now but it still has something unremarkable about it even though it is a perfectly decent song, and I can easily think of about 50 other PSB songs that a inferior and less enjoyable to listen to.

I liked the Trainspotting inspired photography of the CD sleeves though.

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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#52 Post by panda magic » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 12:28 am

Pod wrote:
Sun 03 Jun 2018, 7:28 pm
No problem with high register voices, but the whole song? Nah...
I guess it's lucky, then, that Before isn't completely sung in the higher register. The "There's a story of a man who loved too much" verse and, later, the "One day when the phone starts ringing" verse, not to mention Neil's parts in the whole "It's happened before" outro, are all sung in a low/medium range, and that constitutes a decent portion of the song. And I guess you could argue that the choruses are all kinda medium too since Neil's vocals are mixed in at the same levels as the backup singers, none of whom are doing anything even remotely approaching falsetto. Without those low parts the track would be more tiring for sure, but as it is there's a nice contrast between the high and low sections.

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panda magic
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#53 Post by panda magic » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 4:33 am

Drico One wrote:
Sun 03 Jun 2018, 6:52 pm
It’s aesthetic preference. Going high on the register can work well if your vocal range allows it - or if it works in isolation, like the segment in Love Comes Quickly. But Neil sings all of the verses of Before like Kermit the Frog on helium - and it does him no favours, in my view. Andy Bell’s vocal range - and act (forest nymph) - is much more suited to this.

So that, or my latent homophobia. Yeah, that’s it.

Drico.
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Gary1962
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#54 Post by Gary1962 » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 9:30 am

For me it is the vocals I don't like, I cringe everytime I hear the track.
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#55 Post by Pod » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 10:03 am

panda magic wrote:
Mon 04 Jun 2018, 12:28 am
Pod wrote:
Sun 03 Jun 2018, 7:28 pm
No problem with high register voices, but the whole song? Nah...
I guess it's lucky, then, that Before isn't completely sung in the higher register. The "There's a story of a man who loved too much" verse and, later, the "One day when the phone starts ringing" verse, not to mention Neil's parts in the whole "It's happened before" outro, are all sung in a low/medium range, and that constitutes a decent portion of the song. And I guess you could argue that the choruses are all kinda medium too since Neil's vocals are mixed in at the same levels as the backup singers, none of whom are doing anything even remotely approaching falsetto. Without those low parts the track would be more tiring for sure, but as it is there's a nice contrast between the high and low sections.
Whatever you say...
Sounds pretty high to me for the majority of the song - that’s what is so grating about it. Despite ‘low’ areas.
Just for the sake of it, make sure you're always frowning. :|
It shows the world that you've got substance and depth.

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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#56 Post by jasminewok » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 11:48 am

I don't. I think its a lovely song.

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panda magic
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#57 Post by panda magic » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 3:05 pm

Pod wrote:
Mon 04 Jun 2018, 10:03 am
Whatever you say...
Sounds pretty high to me for the majority of the song - that’s what is so grating about it. Despite ‘low’ areas.
Is this a new "Laurel / Yanny?"

Do you hear Neil sing "there's a story of a man who loved too much" in a lower or a higher register?

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lucienchardon
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#58 Post by lucienchardon » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 5:37 pm

I don't think I truly hate any PSB song, but Before is certainly in my top 5 PSB least favorite songs. I just think it's really dull. I still remember getting the cd single in the mail and racing to hear it and being hugely disappointed, which is extremely rare with PSB material. The artwork was great, the b sides were fantastic, but I couldn't believe that was the lead single. And the lyrics don't do much for me either, which is also very unusual for a PSB track.

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stopthecar
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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#59 Post by stopthecar » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 7:15 pm

Hate is a strong word but I personally think this is their worst single (yes even worst than Winner).
There I said it :?

I remember sitting ready to see and hear the new video on MTV. And whoaw was I disappointed with the result.

I'm not a big fan of falsetto Neil to begin with, and there you had a lead single where Neil was probably kicked in the nuts right Before :P he entered the recording studio.

The video wasn't that spectacular either. After the Very videos the standard was high but this was like faling out of a plane without a parachute.

Then there was the remix cd with over 40 min of the same boring mixes. I only played it once or twice and had heard enough Before Befoooore Beeefooooooooore for years.

This is just my 2 cents. A lot of people seem to like Before, and it didn't do that bad in the charts (back when they mattered) so they must have done something right.

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Re: Why do people hate “Before”?

#60 Post by Remark » Mon 04 Jun 2018, 7:59 pm

I adore Neil's higher octaves and range — not only on Before but particularly on tracks like Some Speculation, Closer to Heaven, and Nightlife. Totally unique, totally Neil, and completely PSB. I think it adds such a lovely airiness to their tracks.

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