Sunday, 17 May 2009

Pet Shop Boys - Legacy (2009)

"The great thing about pop music is that it makes difficult things sound natural. And anything can be brought into it. It is like a newspaper for the world"

(Neil Tennant, 2009)


That's it, the end

But you'll get over it, my friend

Time will pass, governments fall

Glaciers melt, hurricanes bawl

High speed trains, take us away

North or south... and back the same day

And you, you'll get over it

You do, you get over it

Seasons will change, more or less

Species vanish, art perplex

Resentment remains, both east and west

Police expect... an arrest

For now, you'll get over it

Somehow, you'll get over it

You'll be there, the king over the water

In despair, recoiling from the slaughter

They're raising an army, in the North

From York Minster to the Firth of Forth

The pilgrimage of grace, you won't believe it

Such a human face... when you receive it

And you will, get over it

With time to kill, you'll get over it

There's a cruiser waiting, at Scapa Flow

To take you away from all you know

The old man agonized

He really has compromised

Public opinion may not be on your side

There are those who think they've been taken for a ride

You'll get over it, I'm on your side because

You'll get over it, and what a ride it was

Tout les artistes dans le monde

Chantent pour toi ce soir

Tout les artistes dans le monde

Chantent pour toi c'est noir

It's dark, but you'll get over it

On your mark, you'll get over it

That carphone warehouse boy has been on the phone

He wants to upgrade the mobile you own

Have you realized your computer's a spy?

Give him a ring, he'll explain why

The bourgeoisie will get over it

Look at me, I'm so over it

And you, you'll get over it

You do, you'll get over it... in time


It forms the staggering last gasp of a fine album (no return to form, simply even better than Fundamental); the ante upped, the majesty and wisdom enveloping. This is stately and humanely grandiose as only the Pet Shop Boys can imagine. Those vintage, timeless orchestrations combining beautifully with synth orchestra hits - tolling their greater sadness. Who's he quoting in that opening line? Not him, is it? Elliptical lyric; it must be obvious, but is never hammered home.

A requiem for New Labour, to follow some of his earlier savagings; this casts a rueful eye on 'the legacy' that so obsessed the vain and deluded Blair, unable to assess his own vacuity and transience. The PSBs art is a window on the world, in the old Dennis Potter sense; northern good cheer, imparting some profound truths to modern Britain in 'Love Etc.' - number 1 in a Britain that was ready to turn its back on consumerism rather than merely tepidly express doubts. Britain could make the change but so many have been converted not simply in terms of policy or even behaviour but by the language and assumptions of the market and managerialism.

'Building a Wall' evokes Westall's The Machine-Gunners, Hadrian's Wall, the Cold War, Captain Britain and current fencings-in; perceived via Tennant's recollections of his Gosforth upbringing, the lost, proud provincial England of the 50s / 60s. 'The King of Rome' evokes the majestic melancholy, the chill and the embrace of Behaviour; 'Did You See Me Coming?' makes Johnny Marr matter again (it always takes a Morrissey, Sumner or Tennant to truly do that).

But, 'Legacy', well, it is astounding; a rueful epitaph to a period in our history which may increasingly come to seem bizarre and outlandish - the long, indulgent binge; Brown's quarter-by-quarter short-termism and Blair's increasingly paranoid heeding of the Daily Mail agenda on ID cards, law and order, Europe, foreigners, etc. The betrayal of the north is deeply felt by this County Durham resident Tennant, who never took Mandelson's advice. As is the prescience of "Police expect... an arrest", a grim anticipation of G20 and the many battlegrounds that one senses we are headed for. And the pointed coup de grace of the move into French.

The left-of-centre, articulate heart of Britain resides in the Pet Shop Boys; unfortunately, despite the amount of people who profess that they are heroes, I see scarce evidence (in the open, anyway) that people are actually being influenced or affected by this noble pop art. Such is the fate of those who go against the temper of their times, I suppose; let us hope that it can be turned. Let us make that happen.

'You don't have to be in Who's Who to know what's what'

1 comment:

  1. This is possibly the best review on this album so far! Thank you.