First Hit #1: May 10, 1986
I’ve complained that we’ve reached the point where the charts were screaming for something new, and the Pet Shop Boys came along to inch in a new direction. Sure, it’s still synth-pop that’s deeply indebted to the New Wave movement, but it’s also folding in some hip hop influences and moving in its own darker direction, a sound that is a baby step into new areas and new sounds. It’s still ’80s moody synths, but it’s slightly different.
I mentioned hip hop influences, but this is not hip hop, it’s the sound of a couple British guys listening to hip hop, appreciating the ideas, and then making something that’s a bit more relevant to their own lives and their voice. It doesn’t sound like rap, Neil Tennant’s monotone delivery doesn’t really try to do the same thing as most rap artists. Instead, it helps paint a downbeat portrait of inner city pressures that combines with the heavy synths to create a moody atmosphere and their own, distinct sound. The influences combine to create something distinct.