Review Summary: “Good luck, bad luck waiting in a line / It takes more than the matter of time.”
The 80s were filled with memorable music, with important contributions ranging from post punk to pop/synthpop. Artists such as Depeche Mode and Prince are credited as major figures of the latter’s sound, offering their unique take on it. While that is highly creditable as is, there is a name often omitted within 80’s pop legends: The Pet Shop Boys. The duo only started releasing records towards the mid-end of the decade whilst still developing their sound; though, it didn't take them too long to do so. In fact, they hit gold on their sophomore effort, Actually.
Actually is all that synthpop strived to be and more. It remains fun, but doesn't sacrifice its elegance or coolness because of it. “Heart” exactly proves so, as it brings highly danceable sections, catchy melodies, eloquent orchestral strings, and house-y arrangements in just under four minutes. Said electronic flair also provides lots of moments that add very particular textures to the music. This aspect is well brought out on memorable hooks such as the one present on “What Have I Done To Deserve This.” The hooks serve as a great example of The Pet Shop Boys’s quirky vibe and bursting personality, always delivered by Neil Tennant’s highly distinguishable vocals. Of course, the album keeps from being shallow due to some breathtaking ballads: take “King’s Cross,” for example. The track is a fascinating take on post-punk due to its original use of an instrumental background from the genre. The combination of intelligent but groovy, charismatic pop provides for a pleasurable and revitalizing experience worthy of many repetitions.
Even though The Pet Shop Boys aren't what they used to be, their second effort is an undeniable success. Plenty of years after its release, Actually still holds up to the giants of pop music. In a way, that makes The Pet Shop Boys giants of pop themselves, but in their own, amusing style that captured the ears of those willing to listen.