Several months after having collaborated with them on the NoŽl Coward album "Twentieth Century Blues", Robbie Williams invited his mates Neil "Pet Shop Boy" Tennant and Neil "Divine Comedy" Hammond to sing the backing vocals on his new single, "No Regrets".
The song is not that bad, but as a representative of "late Britpop", it sounds horrendously tired more than fifteen years after the fact. As often with this musical genre, the production can only deliver "loud", which is a shame for a song which, had it been a little more streamlined, would have probably been more effective.
This cooperation of Neil Tennant with the über-successful Williams raises the question of the validity of Pet Shop Boys' work with other artists in the 1990s. In the 1980s, the tracks elaborated with Dusty Springfield, Liza Minnelli, Electronic and David Cicero (even if the latter occurred at the very beginning of the 1990s) were all of an amazing quality, inspired and musical.
Conversely, the Boys's involvement with the BritPop movement in the 1990s led to mixed results: the single with Blur was morose (even if better when Tennant sang it), the live tracks with Suede absolutely horrible, the song for Kylie ("Falling") was forgotten as soon as listened to while the track for Tina Turner ("Confidential") was again better when Neil Tennant sang it. Add this nondescript effort for Robbie Williams and it appears quite clearly that the 1990s must have been a difficult decade for the Boys to make music with other artists. Two exceptions in this "forgotten" decade: the beautiful "Hallo Spaceboy" remixed for David Bowie and the brilliant "Do the Right Things", put together by Chris Lowe for his friend Ian Wright.
The rest of the CD is frankly either dated or pedestrian: a live version of "There she goes" and the plain unplugged demo of "Sexed up".
Move over, 1990s: no regrets...