Nightlife (Pet Shop Boys album)

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Nightlife
Pet Shop Boys - Nightlife.png
Studio album by Pet Shop Boys
Released 8 October 1999 (1999-10-08)
Recorded 1998–1999
Studio
Genre
Length 52:02
Label Parlophone
Producer
Pet Shop Boys chronology
Essential
(1998)
Nightlife
(1999)
Release
(2002)
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
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Exclaim!Positive[2]
NME4/10[3]
Pitchfork3.2/10[4]
Release Magazine8/10[5]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[6]
Salon.comPositive[7]
The Village VoiceA−[8]

Nightlife is the seventh studio album by English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was 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, selling 1.2 million copies globally.[9] It reached number seven on the UK Albums Chart (their first studio album not to reach the top five) and only spent three weeks in the chart at the time, but re-entered at number twenty-nine in 2017 following the album's Further Listening 1996–2000 reissue. It also became their lowest charting studio album in the US, reaching number 84. It received mixed-to-positive 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.

Visuals[edit]

For the promotion of the album, the band adopted a stark new appearance, designed in consultation with theatre designer Ian McNeil.[10] Now, the duo ubiquitously appeared wearing thick, dark eyebrows, inspired by Kabuki theatre;[11] 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,[12] inspired by the attire of samurai,[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

According to Tennant, the costumes helped him to distance himself from the songs, adding to the impersonal nature of Nightlife.[10] In other interviews, he explained that they played into his belief in the need for pop stars to have "bigger than life" public images,[15] and were a reaction against the "naturalistic" look of the 1990s.[15][16]

Effort was also spent on designing the tour's visuals, with sets designed by deconstructivist architect Zaha Hadid.[17] The stage was modular, and could fit in differently-sized venues[16] and be rearranged by the backing singers throughout each concert.[13]

Track listing[edit]

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

No.TitleProducer(s)Length
1."For Your Own Good"5:13
2."Closer to Heaven"
4:06
3."I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More"
5:09
4."Happiness Is an Option" (writers: Tennant, Lowe, George Clinton)Pet Shop Boys3:48
5."You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk"
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
3:11
6."Vampires"
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
4:43
7."Radiophonic"
  • Rollo
  • Pet Shop Boys
3:31
8."The Only One"
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
4:21
9."Boy Strange"
  • Rollo
  • Pet Shop Boys
5:09
10."In Denial" (duet with Kylie Minogue)
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
3:20
11."New York City Boy" (writers: Tennant, Lowe, Morales)
  • Morales
  • Pet Shop Boys
5:15
12."Footsteps"
  • Armstrong
  • Pet Shop Boys
4:16

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.

Further Listening 1996–2000[edit]

Disc two
No.TitleLength
1."Vampires" (demo)4:02
2."For All of Us" (demo)4:20
3."Call Me Old-Fashioned" (demo)3:58
4."Friendly Fire"3:23
5."Believe/Song for Guy" (featuring Elton John)2:59
6."Sail Away"4:33
7."It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas" (Fan Club Mix)3:56
8."Nightlife"3:54
9."Playing on the Streets"3:23
10."Tall Thin Men"2:14
11."Radiophonic" (demo)5:15
Total length:41:57
Disc three
No.TitleLength
1."Somebody Else's Business"3:30
2."Silver Age"3:32
3."Screaming"4:54
4."For All of Us"4:23
5."The Ghost of Myself"4:03
6."Casting a Shadow"4:37
7."I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" (The PSB Extension)8:39
8."Was It Worth It?" (live)3:05
9."Lies"4:42
10."Paris City Boy" (Full French)5:17
11."Positive Role Model"4:03
12."Somebody Else's Business" (Extended Mix)5:33
Total length:56:18

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Nightlife.[18]

  • Pet Shop Boys – production (all tracks); arrangements (tracks 2, 8, 10, 12); mixing (track 11); design
  • Steve Abrams – backing vocals (track 11)
  • Craig Armstrong – orchestration, production (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12); additional keyboards (tracks 2, 5, 6, 10); piano (tracks 5, 6, 8, 10); vocoder (track 8); choir arrangements (tracks 10, 12); additional piano (track 12)
  • Steven Barkan – engineering (tracks 3, 11)
  • Mark Bates – additional keyboards (tracks 1, 7, 9)
  • Andy Bradfield – engineering (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12)
  • Billy Cliff – backing vocals (track 11)
  • B. J. Colepedal steel guitar (track 5)
  • Matt Dunkley – choir conducting (tracks 10, 12)
  • Hugo Dwyer – string engineering (track 3)
  • Farrow Design – design
  • Keith Fluitt – backing vocals (track 11)
  • Geoff Foster – string recording (tracks 5, 6, 8, 10, 12)
  • Scott J. Fraser – bass guitar (tracks 5, 6, 8, 12)
  • Andy Gangadeen – drums (track 9)
  • Pete Gleadall – programming (tracks 1, 4, 7, 9); additional programming (track 3)
  • Goetz – engineering (tracks 1, 7, 9); mixing (tracks 3–5, 10, 11)
  • Carlos Gomez – percussion (track 11)
  • Alexei Hay – cover photography
  • JB Henry – additional vocals (tracks 6, 8, 12)
  • Paul Herman – guitar (track 9)
  • Stephen Hilton – additional keyboards, programming (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12)
  • Malcom Hyde-Smith – percussion (track 9)
  • Bill Importico, Jr. – engineering assistance (tracks 3, 11)
  • John James – backing vocals (track 11)
  • Kate St Johnoboe (track 4)
  • Carol Kenyon – additional vocals (tracks 6, 12)
  • Pete Lockett – percussion (track 8, 12)
  • The London Session Orchestra – orchestra (tracks 2, 5, 6, 10, 12)
  • Richard Lowe – engineering (track 4)
  • Ali MacLeod – guitar (tracks 2, 5, 6, 12)
  • Ian MacNeil – costume design
  • Danny Madden – backing vocal arrangements and conduction (track 11)
  • Sylvia Mason-James – additional vocals (track 4)
  • Metro Voices – choir (tracks 10, 12)
  • Kylie Minogue – vocals (track 10)
  • Vincent Montana, Jr. – string and horn arrangements and conduction (track 11)
  • David Morales – production (tracks 3, 11)
  • Joey Mosk – keyboard programming (track 11)
  • Tessa Niles – additional vocals (tracks 6, 12)
  • Richard T. Norris – additional keyboards, programming (tracks 2, 6, 12)
  • Jenny O'Grady – choir master (tracks 10, 12)
  • Gene Perez – bass guitar (track 11)
  • Rollo – mixing, production (tracks 1, 7, 9)
  • Peter "Ski" Schwartz – additional keyboards (tracks 2, 12); keyboards, programming, string arrangements (track 3)
  • Jon Smelz – string and horn engineering (track 11)
  • Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing (tracks 2, 6, 8, 12)
  • Pauline Taylor – additional vocals (track 1)
  • Eric Watson – inside photography
  • Audrey Wheeler – additional vocals (track 3)
  • Gavyn Wright – orchestra conductor
  • Tim Young – mastering

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Germany (BVMI)[39] Gold 150,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[40] Gold 100,000^
Latvia (LaMPA)[41] Gold 4,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[42] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[43] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[44] N/A 139,000[45]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Edition Label Ref.
Germany 8 October 1999 EMI Standard [46]
Japan [47]
United Kingdom 11 October 1999 Parlophone [48]
United States 2 November 1999 Sire [49]
16 November 1999 Limited [50]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Nightlife – Pet Shop Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Bolton, Rob (October 1999). "Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife". Exclaim!. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Nightlife". NME. Retrieved 4 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Cooper, Paul (2 November 1999). "Pet Shop Boys: Nightlife". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Forsberg, Niklas (22 October 1999). "Pet Shop Boys: Nightlife". Release Magazine. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Sheffield, Rob (11 November 2009). "Pet Shop Boys: Nightlife". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 21 December 2005. 
  7. ^ Taylor, Charles (17 November 1999). "The last days of disco". Salon.com. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (9 November 1999). "African Connection II". The Village Voice. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Delingpole, James (12 May 2001). "West End boys". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  10. ^ a b Forsberg, Niklas. "From West End Girls to New York City Boys". Release Magazine. Retrieved 15 February 2007. 
  11. ^ a b Gdula, Steve (9 November 1999). "Happy together". The Advocate. ISSN 0001-8996. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2007 – via FindArticles. 
  12. ^ a b Hoare, Philip (8 October 2006). "About the boys". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Clerk, Carol (31 July 1999). "Straight Down the Line: Pet Shop Boys: Tennant's Super". Melody Maker. Vol. 76 no. 30. p. 7. ISSN 0025-9012. 
  14. ^ "A Pedigree of Panache". Sleazenation. August 1999. ISSN 1742-5506. Retrieved 16 February 2007 – via ChrisLowe.co.uk. 
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  16. ^ a b Stevenson, Jane (14 November 1999). "Pet Shop Boys dance with architecture". Jam!. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "The Pet Shop Boys interview". VOXOnline. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2007. 
  18. ^ Nightlife (liner notes). Pet Shop Boys. Parlophone. 1999. P3043912. 
  19. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
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  26. ^ "Pet Shop Boys: Nightlife" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
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  29. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 1999. 43. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  30. ^ "ペット・ショップ・ボーイズのアルバム売り上げランキング" [Pet Shop Boys album sales ranking]. Oricon (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 23 November 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  31. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife". Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  32. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  33. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 46. 13 November 1999. p. 51. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 30 August 2015 – via Google Books. 
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  40. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 1 May 2018. 
  41. ^ "International Latvian Certification Awards from 1998 to 2001". Latvian Music Producers Association. Directupload. 1999. Retrieved 22 May 2018. 
  42. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 949. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  43. ^ "British album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife". British Phonographic Industry. 18 February 2000. Retrieved 18 September 2011.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Enter Nightlife in the search field and then press Enter.
  44. ^ "American album certifications – Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife". Recording Industry Association of America. 18 February 2000. Retrieved 18 September 2011.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  45. ^ https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/58342/ask-billboard
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