Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2006
Original album - Fundamental
Producer - Trevor Horn
Subsequent albums - Smash
Other releases - single (UK #19, US Dance #3)

In this rapid "electro" track with a chant-like chorus spelling out and stating the title using a vocoder and perhaps other electronic effects, the Boys resisted the temptation (which would have been somewhat predictable) to reflect the title stylistically in the arrangement of the track itself. In fact, it sounds as though they actually had a lot of fun with this one! Its origin is rather fun as well. It was inspired by some Italian friends, enamored of "minimal house music," visiting with them while they were on holiday at Ibiza; the Italians apparently kept chanting "minimal, minimal" as the music played.

The lyrics articulate in a highly abstract, appropriately minimalistic way a "less is more, more is less" philosophy. Neil has said that he and Chris "have always had a minimalist sense of design," adding that the lyrics are more or less "about" minimalist art. In fact, the reference in the lyrics to "Time and space" almost certainly refers directly to the Minimal Art movement of the 1960s, which, as one writer has put it, "focused on creating new experieces of space and time" (Ben Schott, Schott's Miscellany 2008, p. 173).

The line "Decide something less decisional" is especially interesting in light of the fact that, as existentialist philosophers have long articulated, to not decide is itself a decision. Could this be another expression of post-9/11 angst, suggesting that an attempt to broker an escape from the complexities of life through minimalism is ultimately futile? The Boys don't offer an answer any more than they clearly state such a question. They leave such matters up to us.

On their 2006-07 Fundamental tour, the Boys performed this song in a medley with the much earlier "Shopping." In addition to lyrics that spell out the title, the two tracks also share the distinction of containing "guitar solos" (actually samples played on a keyboard) that, as Neil concedes, were inspired by the style of New Order's Peter Hook. (Hook, who most often played bass, would frequently perform melodic lines on the highest-pitched strings of his bass guitar, which are only subtly different in tone and timbre from the lowest-pitched strings of a standard electric guitar.)

Although "Minimal" was originally slated as the first single from Fundamental, that distinction instead went to "I'm with Stupid." It may be that Neil and Chris, or perhaps their record company, decided that the more accessible lyrics of "Stupid" would enhance the commercial appeal of what would be, in effect, the "official album teaser." Regardless of the reason, "Minimal" received the "consolation prize," so to speak, of being designated the album's second single, released as such in July 2006.



Officially released

Official but unreleased

List cross-references