The Pet Shop Boys' fifth "proper" studio album sees a return to more club-oriented production styles; Very
is produced by Neil and Chris themselves (with a little help from Stephen Hague and Brothers In Rhythm) and it shows in the now slightly dated-sounding bleeps and bloops that pepper most every track here. Nevertheless, the songs are as good as always, from the disco stomp of "Can You Forgive Her" to the rollicking "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing", the affecting "The Theatre" and the brilliant but bonkers "Yesterday, When I Was Mad".
There are sad, slow songs here, too; the regretful "Young Offender", "To Speak Is A Sin", which details the sordid chat-up processes of certain nightclubs and the poignant "Dreaming Of The Queen", with its strangely prescient lyrics ("And Di replied/That there were no more lovers left alive)".
The album's closed by the PSB's anthemic ni-NRG reworking of the Village People's "Go West" and a secret hidden track featuring the vocal talents of one Chris Lowe; another perfect pop package is topped off by a 16-track CD of B-sides, remixes, demos and live tracks, including such gems as the Pets' version of Blur's "Girls And Boys". --Rikki Price