We All Feel Better in the Dark

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1990
Original album - Disco 2
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Alternative, Behaviour 2001 reissue Further Listening 1990-1991 bonus disc
Other releases - b-side of single "Being Boring"

Considered by many to be Chris Lowe's masterpiece, and perhaps acknowledged as such by the Boys themselves in their "Performance" stage show, in which an elaborate dance sequence was set to an extended version of this song. As Chris has explained, it was inspired in part by a tape he bought at a health food store located near the studio where he and Neil were working at the time. The tape was titled The Secrets of Sexual Attraction.

Chris describes the excitement and ecstasy he feels in nightclubs while dancing with someone he finds highly attractive. The sinuous music, while somewhat techno-oriented, is nonetheless extremely evocative and sensual, as overtly sexual as the words themselves. As in other "Chris tracks" like "Paninaro" and "One of the Crowd," Neil's apparent role is reduced to singing the title line (which, again like "One of the Crowd," may be an expression of Chris's relative shyness) over and over again in the chorus. It may be simplistic and formulaic, but when the results are as satisfying as this, it's hard to complain. Chris, on the other hand, doesn't seem entirely satisfied with those results. As he once put it, "The words are terrible. Awful. Embarrassing." (I sometimes wonder whether he's particularly chagrined by the line "I'm feeling really horny.")

By the way—do we all feel better in the dark? That undoubtedly varies from one person to another. But it's generally agreed that most people tend to look better in the dark (or close to it), which is one of the main reasons why bars, nightclubs, and dance clubs almost always have dim lighting.

One of my site visitors, however, wrote to me with some interesting alternate interpretations, including a highly metaphorical one that I find especially intriguing. What if we consider the phrase "in the dark" in its common figurative sense, as in somebody being "kept in the dark"—that is, not aware of the truth? Do we all indeed feel better when we're kept in the dark, when we aren't fully aware of the awful reality of the situations in which we find ourselves? In light of the much later song "Luna Park," which suggests (among other things) that people do often take comfort in the "darkness" of illusions that shield them from the harsh light of reality, we might well consider this possible "adjunct" interpretation.

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