Pet Shop Boys - I'm With Stupid

Tim Miller 08/05/2006

Rating: 4/5

The Pet Shop Boys have been cutting a successful swathe through the charts for decades with their tinny slices of Euro-pop-disco. They have almost become a pop cliché, in that they sound, still, so stuck in the Eighties. Now, they're back with a single attacking George Bush and Tony Blair, which today is yet another cliché. So why is it so good?

Neil Tennant's voice is as wispy as ever, still sounding faintly like a male Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and the backing music, again, sounds as though it's taken from a Casio keyboard. Blatant computer created tom-tom fills, a Eurovision beat, splodgy basslines, the odd technical squeak, with atmospheric swirls fading in and out in the background too. If it wasn't the Pet Shop Boys, it would be terrible. But they do it so well, they get away with it. The best bits are the bridges leading into that radio-friendly “Ooh ooh, I'm with stupid”, Tennant's gentle lyrics piercing into the corner of your brain marked 'You shouldn't hum this but you WILL'.

The lyrics are the icing on the cake, in fact. They work as a simple boy/girl love affair, yet brilliantly underpin the world's view of the US/UK 'special relationship'. It is likely, in this case, that 'stupid' is Bush, though the lyrics can be read either way round. Gently ironic and yet relentlessly scathing: “You grin, I pose, it's not about sincerity, everybody knows”, the clever simplicity of both music and lyrics has its own special relationship here, and the Boys' latest single is a 3 and a half minute scamper through pop and politics that should win your vote.