Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars not vintage, but ages well, 26 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Bilingual (Audio CD)
Why are PSBs widely thought not to have made a decent album between "Actually" and "Fundamental"? The previous review describes this album in great detail, and I agree with much of it, so I won't dwell on every track of the main album. "Bilingual" certainly didn't set the pulse racing when it came out and releasing "Before" as the lead single can't have helped: Tennant's weak vocal line must have had friends of PSB fans crowing "told you so - he can't sing". It's not got the hiNRG camp of "Very" (I remember that album getting glowing reviews in the NME and the dailies - history seems to recall differently),and it's not "Nightlife" either (an album Time Out felt showed the PSBs never sounding more contemporary, but which sold poorly nonetheless). But returning to "Bilingual" after a long absence reavels several gems. Serious clubbers, the PSBs were ahead of the curve when it came to anticipating the latin groove genre by several years and overall it has a fine summery feel that weathers well. Neil Tennant now recalls its genesis as a reaction against BritPop: well, at the time BritPop was a hard one to beat, what with the Oasis-Blur verbal (and chart) wars and Pulp finally and deservedly getting their 15 minutes of fame: there were a whole new lot of social commentators in town. Tennants wry observations and their most overt gay songs so far didn't really get noticed. The first five tracks (with the exception of the amusing but rather unfinished-sounding low-tech rap "Electricity") are stompers, driven by latin rhythms and featuring female drumming troupe SheBoom on "Discoteca" and "Single". There are two gorgeous songs in particular - "To step aside" - probably familiar to many from the "Somewhere" Savoy residency video - and my favourite here, "It always comes as a surprise". "A red letter day" remains an album oddity for me, especially compared to the hi-NRG single remix and, this being a PSB album, it can only end one of two ways: gloriously over the top (think "Go West" or "Jealousy") or a bit of a damp squib as is the case here with "Saturday night forever".

The extra disc is well worth the entrance price, although most tracks have been released on limited edition 12" or CD singles. It begins with a dubby and slow-to- start "Somewhere" that builds momentum nicely and then seques into the familiar orchestral disco of the 7" mix. There are two very good long trancey mixes by Trouser Enthusiasts, one of "Red Letter Day", the other of "Discoteca". Even "Before" (Classic Paradise mix) sounds improved. The Pink Noise mix of "Se a vida e" is my favourite version of the song - gentle electronica, with lots of backward-layered cymbals and a bass/hi-hat sound straight out of "Last night a DJ saved my life". Finally, there's a more latin mix of the excellent "The boy who couldn't keep his clothes on" from the one that came out on the "Red Leter Day" single pack. A typical PSB B-side (i.e as good as the A-side, if not better), it's another PSB tale of uncertain young sexuality, as a girl berates her boyfriend for heading out to what is obviously a gay club and dancing shirtless (or worse) on the podium. "I'm telling your mother" she concludes petulantly as she ineffectually confronts him in the club. If only we had had a video for that one - MTV would have had apoplexy!
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