A Face Like That

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2012
Original album - Elysium
Producer - Andrew Dawson, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

If you were only to hear the first minute-and-a-half, you might think this track is very much in the mold of the now semi-legendary Relentless album: a Chris-dominated, techno/dance-oriented, largely instrumental affair, with only the occasional vocal interjection by Neil. But once his voice kicks in to stay, it becomes a full-fledged song (that is, as opposed to an instrumental) that in many ways stands as the most "traditionally PSB" track on Elysium.

Going back to that lengthy instrumental introduction for a moment, one of the most notable things about it is the use of assorted background sound effects, including thunder, crashing waves, birds chirping, and what sounds like other "animal noises." These persist throughout the song, even after the vocal takes over. These sound effects were undoubtedly inspired by several lines in the lyrics:

A tropical storm was passing through
And so were you
I heard the waves crashing
Saw your eyes flashing

Neil has said that he had a heterosexual scenario in mind in composing these lyrics, though such specificity of sexual orientation is by no means essential to the narrative. His persona is that of a man sitting in a tropical bar, when (as Neil put it in the January 2013 issue of Literally), "suddenly the sort of person Mick Jagger would go out with walks in, some amazing gorgeous sultry woman with flashing eyes." The woman to whom the lyrics are addressed would seem to have somewhat volatile personality, compared as she is to "a tropical storm" and other forces of nature. But, her temperament aside, the lyrics keep coming back to her physical attributes:

With a face like that
How couldn't I want you?
With a face like that
Why wouldn't I fall in love with you?

A number of other lines provide metaphorical expressions of just how wonderful her face is. (My favorite is "With a face like that, you could land on the moon." It doesn't make a lick o' logical sense, but it's terrific nonetheless.)

In short, though her personality makes her the sort of woman people might best steer clear of, her looks are irresistible. And that, together with the internal conflict it inspires in the narrator, is the basic gist of this song. Do you tolerate the storm for the sake of the beauty, or do you abandon the beauty to escape the storm? To this end, the "stormy" music—to which occasional "tropical" instrumental flourishes are cleverly added—perfectly mirrors the situation in which the narrator finds himself. It's the same sort of internal conflict I imagine a lot of people go through when living in the Caribbean during hurricane season.

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