Time on My Hands

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2003
Original album - Disco 3
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Release 2017 reissue Further Listening 2001-2004 bonus disc
Other releases - (none)

It seems odd coming from a band one of whose signature tunes is about not being bored or boring ("Being Boring"), but this song is, as Neil himself has stated, all about "being bored" (or "boredom and partying," as he put it on another occasion). Recorded in late 2000 during the Release sessions but left unfinished until after that album came out, this track is a near-instrumental that nevertheless features the voices of both Chris and Neil, rendered almost indecipherable through heavy distortion. Fortunately, the lyrics posted on the official PSB website come to our rescue. Chris's voice is heard first, repeatedly counting "Seventy, eighty, ninety, party." As the Boys have noted in the April 2003 issue of their fan-club magazine Literally, it's a "count-up" to the millennium.

Meanwhile, Neil's repeating vocals are even more difficult to parse out. As it turns out, he's singing, "It's very nice but it's not what I'm used to—time on my hands." Could this be the Boys' ambivalent commentary about their status in the current decade? Do they indeed have time on their hands? If so, why? Or are they even singing about themselves at all? Could it be some sort of bizarre rumination on the prospects of retirement, looming ever larger before the "Baby Boom" generation? (After all, "70, 80, 90" could also be viewed as a count through one's retirement years.) But with so few lyrics to go on—as with "The Samurai in Autumn," they're rather haiku-like in their conciseness—it's tempting to launch into a frenzy of speculation as to what this song is about. Lyrics aside, it's a totally contemporary-sounding dance track, somewhat in the "electroclash" style, and a superb opening to the album.

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