Nightlife (Pet Shop Boys album)

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Pet Shop Boys - Nightlife.png
Studio album by Pet Shop Boys
Released 8 October 1999 (1999-10-08)
Recorded 1998–99
Length 52:02
Label Parlophone
Pet Shop Boys chronology
Singles from Nightlife
  1. "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More"
    Released: 19 July 1999
  2. "New York City Boy"
    Released: 27 September 1999
  3. "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk"
    Released: 3 January 2000
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]
Exclaim! positive[2]
Pitchfork Media 3.2/10[3]
Release Magazine 8/10[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[5] positive[6]
The Village Voice A−[7]
NME 4/10[8]

Nightlife is the seventh studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys, released on 8 October 1999 by Parlophone. After the release and promotion of their previous album, Bilingual, Pet Shop Boys started work with playwright Jonathan Harvey on the stage musical that eventually became Closer to Heaven (at one stage during the writing process, the musical was given the name of Nightlife). Pet Shop Boys soon had an album's worth of tracks and decided to release the album Nightlife as a concept album and in order to showcase some of the songs that would eventually make it into the musical.

The album incorporates a variety of musical influences, including hard trance on the Rollo-produced "For Your Own Good" and "Radiophonic"; dance-pop on "Closer to Heaven" and "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More"; disco pastiche on "New York City Boy"; and country music on "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk". The track "Happiness Is an Option" is based on Sergei Rachmaninoff's classical piece Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14.

The album was a moderate commercial success - reaching number 7 in the UK Album Chart (their first studio album not to reach the Top 5) and only spent 3 weeks in the chart. It also became their lowest charting studio album in the US, reaching number 84. It received mixed reviews from critics.

"In Denial" with Kylie Minogue[edit]

"In Denial" is a duet featuring Kylie Minogue. It was seen as a risk by critics because this project came at a time when Minogue was experiencing low record sales and did not have her own record contract. Pet Shop Boys had previously written a song titled "Falling" for Minogue's 1994 album Kylie Minogue. The year after Nightlife's release, Minogue also signed to Parlophone and released her hugely successful Light Years album in 2000. Minogue would later sing "In Denial" on her Showgirl: The Greatest Hits Tour, with Tennant's pre-recorded vocals being played as part of the duet while Minogue sang live.


For the promotion of the album, the band adopted a stark new appearance, designed in consultation with theatre designer Ian McNeil.[9] Now, the duo ubiquitously appeared wearing thick, dark eyebrows, inspired by Kabuki theatre;[10] yellow or orange wigs in a variety of hairstyles, inspired by the punk subculture (especially several spiked wigs); and black sunglasses. This was supported by a series of outfits in dark, muted colours, the most deviant of which incorporated culottes,[11] inspired by the attire of samurai,[10] instead of trousers. Photographs involving the costumes were often set in urban environments; the Midland Grand Hotel in Kings Cross, London was used as the setting to debut the look.[11] The costumes were used for promotional photographs, the album cover and liner notes, all the single covers, as well as the Nightlife Tour.

The music video for "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore" showed Tennant and Lowe being transformed into their new appearances, though in a fantastical manner: they are operated on by medical laboratory machines, then covered in talcum powder and dressed by monks in a ritual-like manner. Finally, they are given dogs on leashes and released into a "different world", where everyone else is also dressed in exactly the same way.[12] Conceptualised among the band members, McNeil, and director Pedro Romhanyi, the video was created to showcase the costumes. It was visually influenced by the films THX 1138 (1971) in the initial transformation sequence (copying many of its shots and props precisely); Ridicule, in the ritualistic dressing-up scene; 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), in the decor of the living room with an illuminated floor; and A Clockwork Orange (1971), in the outdoor urban setting.[13]

According to Tennant, the costumes helped him to distance himself from the songs, adding to the impersonal nature of Nightlife.[9] In other interviews, he explained that they played into his belief in the need for pop stars to have "bigger than life" public images,[14] and were a reaction against the "naturalistic" look of the 1990s.[14][15]

Effort was also spent on designing the tour's visuals, with sets designed by deconstructivist architect Zaha Hadid.[16] The stage was modular, and could fit in differently-sized venues[15] and be rearranged by the backing singers throughout each concert.[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "For Your Own Good"     5:13
2. "Closer to Heaven"    
3. "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More"    
4. "Happiness Is an Option"  
Pet Shop Boys 3:48
5. "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk"    
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
6. "Vampires"    
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
7. "Radiophonic"    
  • Rollo
  • Pet Shop Boys
8. "The Only One"    
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
9. "Boy Strange"    
  • Rollo
  • Pet Shop Boys
10. "In Denial" (duet with Kylie Minogue)  
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
11. "New York City Boy"  
  • Tennant
  • Lowe
  • Morales
  • Morales
  • Pet Shop Boys
12. "Footsteps"    
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys

US limited edition bonus CD[edit]

A limited edition two-CD set of Nightlife was released in the United States. The bonus disc, titled Nightlife Extra, contained all the B-sides from the UK releases of the "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" and "New York City Boy" singles, as well as remixes of these singles, some of which were only available in the US on promotional releases.


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Nightlife.[17]



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Germany (BVMI)[40] Gold 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Gold 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Edition Label Ref.
Germany 8 October 1999 EMI Standard [42]
Japan [43]
United Kingdom 11 October 1999 Parlophone [44]
United States 2 November 1999 Sire [45]
16 November 1999 Limited [46]


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  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (9 November 1999). "African Connection II". The Village Voice. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
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