Pet Shop Boys, Behaviour

What impresses me most about this album is how, simultaneously and effortlessly, it captures one man's experience and yet everyone else's all at the same time. Who hasn't struggled, in ways small or writ large, with their lovers ("So Hard"), or evolved your views and profession ("Being Boring"), or felt the despair of a failed relationship ("The End of the World"), or, for that matter, wondered what to do with October, the absolute worst month of the year ("October Symphony")? Only the otherwise competent "How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?" breaks the unity, however on target its criticism of shallow popstar humanitarianism might be, and Harold Faltermeyer's masterful co-production sharpens the beats to be as compelling as the lyrical vignettes. As evidence of their skill, consider "Nervously:" when Tennant came out in 1994 it became clear whom he wrote it for, and yet its universality of the trembling of falling in love seeps deeply into any human soul. I could see myself in that song; couldn't you? For an album as personal as this one must have been to them, how much more so its crystalline moments of humanity make it to the rest of us. Unfortunately, the Further Listening companion disc doesn't quite reach the heights of the main album, and the almost 11-minute "Being Boring" remix gets vaguely tedious, but U2 was wrong to dismiss their cover of "Where The Streets Have No Name" and their pastiche of Morrissey in "Miserablism" is right on the money. (Content: no concerns.)