My fifth and final AESNWBWAST to close out the week is Pet Shop Boys, arguably the most well-known and celebrated of the five bands I’ve spotlighted here (it’s a close call with Duran Duran, though). Other than Erasure, they’re also the only two-man group I’ve featured.
Postmodern ironists cloaked behind a veil of buoyantly melodic and lushly romantic synth pop confections, Pet Shop Boys established themselves among the most commercially and critically successful groups of their era with cheeky, smart, and utterly dance able music. Always remaining one step ahead of their contemporaries, the British duo navigated the constantly shifting landscape of modern dance-pop with rare grace and intelligence, moving easily from disco to house to techno with thier own distinctive image remaining completely intact.
Pet Shop Boys also have the honor of being the only AESNWBWAST I’ve featured who haven’t gone through some kind of transitional turmoil, and since their formation in 1981 have remained the collaborative duo of Neil Tennant (main vocals, keyboards) and Chris Lowe (keyboards). The group has sold over 100 million records, have had six singles in the Billboard Top 10 and 22 in the UK charts, and are six-time Grammy nominees.
Though Pet Shop Boys were a defining artist of the ’80s, I didn’t really discover them until 1991; up until that point I was only familiar with their biggest hit single, West End Girls. My real introduction to Pet Shop Boys was via my older sister. One of the first CDs she ever purchased was their compilation album, Discography: The Complete Singles Collection, and I snuck it from her bedroom at every available opportunity. I absolutely fell in love with that CD, which is the album I credit with introducing me to Europop, a love that would later lead me to discovering and developing a passion for many more artists of a similar style.
As recently as this week, the Pet Shop Boys released a brand new Olympics-inspired single and video “Winner”, which I’ve embedded below. Their eleventh studio album, Elysium, is set to release on September 17th.
WTF is AESNWBWAST Awareness Week?
AESNWBWAST = “Awesome Eighties Synthpop &New Wave Bands Who Are Still Together” Awareness Week (it’s a shitty name, I know, just deal with it). I officially kicked things off with this post , in which I express my disappointment that most people aren’t aware that there are a lot of awesome synthpop/new wave bands from the ‘80s who are still together and putting out albums of music that sound just as good if not better than the ‘80s stuff you already know and love. Each day this week I’ll re-introduce you to one of these bands, and tell you why they’re STILL awesome.