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Another Pet Shop Boys project, another (qualified) success
on 5 September 2005
A year ago, twenty-thousand people crowded into Trafalgar Square in London in the rain to watch a black-and-white silent Soviet-era propaganda film. The majority, probably, went to see the Pet Shop Boys.
This is not the first time the duo have strayed out of traditional pop music. They've already written and staged a musical in the West End, done a three-week residency at the Savoy Theatre, and worked with a range of artists including Derek Jarman and Sam Taylor-Wood.
This time, they've brought in orchestrator Torsten Rasch and the Dresdner Sinfoniker, to create a new soundtrack for Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.
The music is easily recognisable as the Pet Shop Boys, a mixture of electronics and orchestral sounds, and it's highly accomplished.
But, without the movie, it's not necessarily the easiest listen - the music was written to the movie, and so there are long, fairly repetitive instrumental passages which work much better alongside Eisenstein's visuals. A DVD release of the movie with the new soundtrack would have been a better idea than the music alone.
This is not a follow up to the group's last studio album. There are only really two songs, as such, "No time for tears" and "After all". Both would easily sit on a regular Pet Shop Boys studio album, "After all" in particular works as a very angry response to the war in Iraq.
It's twenty years since West End Girls was released, and the Pet Shop Boys have evolved from a pop group to a kind of arts project.
Battleship Potemkin is not a classical album. Neither is it a pop album. To be prepared, twenty years into your career, to repeatedly head in a new direction shows exactly why the Pet Shop Boys are still around, and still relevant.
And, as usual, the sleeve is impeccably designed....