On March 11 “The Pop Kids”, the first single from the forthcoming new album is released. Based on an instrumental demo Chris had written in a Munich hotel room in 2011 while on tour with Take That, it is about a friend of Neil’s who, as the song mentions, went to university in the early Nineties and had a friend who he would go clubbing with; the two of them were referred to by the other students as “the pop kids”. “The actual details of the story are all invented,” Neil points out. “I think the song is ultimately celebrating their friendship, which is expressed through pop music. It’s also celebrating what the song ‘Vocal’ celebrates: euphoria, and camaraderie, and all those things you can get out of pop music. Also it’s celebrating people who take something trivial seriously. Pop music, which is ostensibly trivial, is also very important. We’ve always thought that. So it’s celebrating the type of person who thinks that.”
On April 1 a new Pet Shop Boys album, Super, is released. It is produced by Stuart Price, was recorded in Los Angeles and is the second part of what the Pet Shop Boys have stated will be a trilogy, but while it broadly shares Electric’s sonic palette, it is emphatically not intended simply as a companion piece and reiteration of the previous album. “It was going to follow on,” Chris explains, “from where Electric finished.” “It’s old Pet Shop Boys mixed with new Pet Shop Boys,” says Neil. They wrote twenty-five songs, then made a selection, says Neil, “favouring electronic sounds and ‘up’ attitude over charming pop…Whereas Electric was super-dance, what links this together is sort of its electronic-ness. We wanted it to be a pretty ‘up’ album. In fact to me I think it’s got something slightly manic about it.” The title came to Chris while walking one day to their London studio. “It’s kind of an uplifting word,” he says. “It’s an international word,” Neil adds. “I think it’s pretty much understood everywhere. It seemed to fit the mood of this album. And it sounds like one of our albums.”
On July 20, the Pet Shop Boys begin a sold-out four-night residency, Inner Sanctum, at London’s Royal Opera House. “We thought it would be exciting,” says Neil, “to play at a venue a lot of people won’t have been to, the grandest theatre in London. There is actually a creative tension between an institution like the Royal Opera House and electronic dance music, and I think we’ve hoping that will prove to be a rather fruitful tension, because it’s exciting to take electronic music into a venue that doesn’t normally have it.”
On This Day
It's officially announced that the Boys will be among the performers at the upcoming 30th annual Glastonbury Festival.
Neil and Chris tape a live performance in Madrid for broadcast on Spanish TV and radio.
On a break from touring, the Boys split up for two very different afternoons in London. Neil visits the BBC Television Centre to record an interview for the TV series Pop Britannia, while Chris attends The Queen's Club to watch a preliminary championship match in lawn tennis.
Neil is among the artists who take part this afternoon in a special London concert paying tribute to Kate McGarrigle—Canadian singer-songwriter and mother of his friend Rufus Wainwright—who had succumbed to cancer the preceding January. Neil performs Kate's song 'I Cried for Us.' Among the other performers are Emmylou Harris, Nick Cave, Jenni Muldaur, Richard and Linda Thompson, Anna McGarrigle, and Rufus and his sister Martha.
The final night of PSB's extended string of shows in Manchester as the 'special guests' of Take That.
Believing their accidentally muted audio equipment is still malfunctioning, Neil and Chris visit the German town of Wittenberg, including the church where Martin Luther had posted his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517.
Neil makes a surprise guest appearance onstage this evening at Rufus Wainwright's concert on the grounds of London's Royal Hospital. They duet on 'Poses,' which Neil introduces as the song that made him a Rufus fan.