For me, Introspective will always be the soundtrack to summer. There’s just something about this Pet Shop Boys album that evokes summer vibes.
Released in 1988, it’s a dance album with just six tracks; but what brilliant tracks they are! Introspective sounds like the best of Pet Shop Boys condensed down into the most essential parts. There’s something joyously uplifting about the music, and it sounds just as wonderful now as it did back then. It’s a solid collection of back-to-back club bangers; these aren’t short single versions, but extended, fully explored and experimental dance versions of songs that (mostly) hadn’t been released as singles yet.
Here’s the sun-drenched video for the infectious Domino Dancing.
This is their cover of Alright, which was originally by Stirling Void and Paris Brightledge.
Meanwhile, Left To My Own Devices is a contender for the best Pet Shop Boys song ever.
The crowning glory of Introspective is arguably their cover of Elvis Presley’s Always On My Mind, which was a surprising UK number one single for Pet Shop Boys in 1987, immediately following on from their successful run of singles from the actually album.
Four out of the six tracks were hit singles, although a fifth, I’m Not Scared had already been a big hit for Eighth Wonder (Pet Shop Boys wrote the song for Eighth Wonder, but decided to include their own version of it on Introspective).
The Quietus best sums up my feelings for this album:
For here is another extraordinary thing about Introspective. Dance music is by its very nature an extroverted format. It’s about community, bonding, exhilaration, shared experience – and never more so than when house took off across the UK and ecstasy became its stimulant of choice. Yet Pet Shop Boys managed to make one of the greatest club albums of that golden period, and make it, as the title suggests, a distinctly introverted record; one dealing in seclusion (both sought and undesired), loneliness, and the darkest, most intimate aspects of relationship struggles. It’s entirely in character for their own work, yet stuffed with floor-filling bangers. It’s simultaneously a club classic, a pop classic and a classic of downbeat songwriting and interpretation. I can’t think of another record from the time that achieved this. If you had ever been a solitary child “in a world of [your] own at the back of the garden”, finding your pleasures in your inner life and in visions of a very different future self; if you were never a joiner-in; if you were a creature of daydreams and uncertainty – here was your dance record. Pet Shop Boys were there for you, just as they had been before raving arrived.
Stream Introspective below.