Transparent

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2003
Original album - Format
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Release 2017 reissue Further Listening 2001-2004 bonus disc
Other releases - bonus track with single "Miracles"

A "very electro" song (also described by the Boys as "Kraftwerkesque") recorded during the Release sessions. At one time they were considering releasing a dance album to go along with Release, in much the way that Relentless had accompanied Very, but they finally decided against it. In light of these facts, it's not surprising that it bears the hallmarks of a classic "Chris track": heavily dance-oriented, somewhat minimalist (though displaying a few unusual musical flourishes), with relatively sparse, simple lyrics. In fact, this song seems strongly to share an almost self-abnegating narrative point of view with the much earlier "One of the Crowd," which has long been regarded as perhaps the single most unmistakable expression of "the philosophy of Chris Lowe."

In those lyrics (two quatrains, each repeated)—which are sung by Neil, though the voice is so profoundly distorted with a vocoder or some such device that it took his confirmation of the fact to remove any doubt about it—the narrator expresses his desire to be "transparent" so that his lover could "see right through" and know everything there is to know about him. Notably, he doesn't profess to having nothing to hide, but instead admits, "Don't have much to hide." But even those few secrets he seems willing to expose. Despite the "techno" arrangement and the sparseness of the lyrics, the Boys manage to convey (as previously in "Liberation") a remarkable mood of "willing vulnerability," of opening oneself up to both the joys and dangers of love.

List cross-references