Party in the Blitz

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2024
Original album - none
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - bonus track with the single "Loneliness"

This remarkable bonus track with the "Loneliness" single invites at least two interpretations, though one is far more likely than the other, and the two may actually inform each other. It describes a wild party complete with champagne and cocktails set "in the Blitz." The title and lyrics were inspired by the 2003 memoir Party in the Blitz (translated into English in 2005 from the original German Party im Blitz; Die englischen Jahre) by the Nobel Prize-winning Bulgarian-born expatriate author Elias Canetti, who settled in England after 1938 but continued to write in German. Therefore the song concerns the famous historical "Blitz" during World War II as Germany relentlessly bombed London and other U.K. ports and industrial cities night after night, trying in vain to beat the British into submission; hence the song's references to bombs—especially in relation to "Mornington Cresent" where "a bomb fell last night." Mornington Cresent is a London street and subway station, the site of a particularly serious German air raid early in the Blitz. During the night of September 9, 1940, bombs killed eleven people there and wounded dozens of others.

A second "subsidiary" interpretation is that it could refer to the notorious but short-lived (1979-1980) club "Blitz" in London's Covent Garden, which has often been credited as "ground zero" for the birth of the British "New Romantic" movement of the early 'eighties. Actually, there's nothing to say that it couldn't be referring to both simultaneously, with one being a metaphorical overlay on the other.

Regardless of the interpretation, the lyrics express a fatalistic devil-may-care attitude toward life, which is especially understandable under the circumstances of World War II. They refer to the sheer "pointlessness of life" amidst death and destruction: "Losing everything… who cares now?" This fatalism gives rise to rather darkly comic situations, such as when Neil's narrator describes the following occurrence:

As the bombs were falling
I was trying to explain existentialism
With the last of the champagne

Even the music carries darkly comic overtones. While its rhythms, instrumentation, and arrangement don't reflect those common to London circa 1940, they aptly convey a party atmosphere set in a time period perhaps other than our own. Amidst this apparent meaningless, the narrator confesses, "I wish that you were with me now / I wish I was your wife," indicating that Neil's persona here is either female or gay (talking to a presumably heterosexual man), neither of which itself is hardly unusual for him. The prospect of love endures despite death and destruction, despite apparent meaninglessness.

It's a strikingly original track, one that proves once again how versatile and imaginative our musical heroes can be when they set out to try something a little different.

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