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
Chris and Neil are winding up a three-week stint in South London and Clacton filming It Couldn't Happen Here.
The Pet Shop Boys perform in Mexico City for a second night.
Continuing their post-touring vacation, Neil and Chris enjoy an evening as spectators at a Mexican wrestling match at the Monterrey Coliseo.
The Boys perform in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Neil and Chris are interviewed on Matthew Rudd's Q Radio show, during which records by other artists selected by them are also played. The most delightful surprise to this writer? - Bob Lind's big 1966 folk-pop hit 'Elusive Butterfly.'
London department store Fortnum & Mason unveils their 2011 Christmas window decorations. The store's creative director, Paul Symes, tells an interviewer that this year's display is inspired by the Pet Shop Boys' music video for 'What Have I Done to Deserve This?' He points out, 'We’ve been very careful to stay on the glamorous side and not stray into anything seedy.'
The Boys are in Punta Del Este, Uruguay in preparation for their concert there the following evening.
As noted a few days later on their official Facebook page, Chris and Neil pay a backstage 'surprise visit' this evening 'before the final curtain call' to the cast of the revival of their musical Closer to Heaven at London's Union Theatre.