Reunion

Writers - Tennant/Lowe/Hermansen/Eriksen (?)
First released - 2017
Original album - Release 2017 reissue Further Listening 2001-2004 bonus disc
Producer - Pet Shop Boys and Stargate
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

Not only was this song not released until the 2017 reissue of the album Release, but there had never been any "word" of it whatsoever—or at least of any PSB song of that title—until then. According to the Pet Shop Boys' official website, it was "written and produced in 2003 with Stargate (Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen), the Norwegian team who have since become famous for their work with Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Coldplay and many others."

Neil has stated (in the notes in the booklet accompanying the reissue) that this song has "the kernal of a true story in it" in that it was inspired by his meeting up with old friends from his hometown of Newcastle. He describes it as "a simple short story about some friends getting together after a long time and having a reunion." The big question is "what’s it going to be like?" Or, as the chorus puts it:

How will I appear to you after all these years?
How will you appear to me after all these years?

But the story doesn't seem nearly as "simple" as Neil lets on. Actually, it's a doubly bittersweet reminiscence about the unexpected transience of once-important relationships that, under other circumstances, could have become even more important.

I say "doubly" bittersweet because of the two levels of "relationship transcience" that this song describes. The first appears right off the bat, with Neil (or at least his narrative persona) describing a reunion of four old friends—"a gang composed of you and me, Terry Jr. and Joey D." But although he says, "We used to be the closest friends," now "many years have passed" since they've seen each other. So the song evokes a sad, wistful feeling atmosphere of close friends who have drifted far apart. But by the second verse we learn of an even deeper undercurrent of sadness, of how the narrator and the person whom he's directly addressing (the "you" in the song) had once become lovers, or at least—fueled by alcohol—had a sexual encounter:

By you I could be easily led
That's how we ended up in bed

But afterward that other person was unable to "face [the] reality" of what had happened between them, despite the narrator noting, "I'm sure you said you loved me." But his need to make that assertion indicates that his erstwhile friend/lover doesn't recall saying any such thing. In fact, the narrator sadly observes that, when it became known to their friends what had happened between them, "You went away, and since that day, we have never spoken." (Sounds like the "Gee, I sure was drunk last night" syndrome, but tainted by homosexual panic.) And yet, now, years later, it appears that contact has been suddenly been renewed: "And now you think it's time we had a reunion." The unuttered question is "Why?"

We can't help but feel the narrator's ambivalence, or at least his mixed emotions: again, that air of bittersweetnes, and with more than a hint of irony. He was clearly hurt by what had happened, and he's just as clearly apprehensive about such a "reunion." Yet, at the same time, he may feel a degree of hope and expectation; perhaps his former friend/lover is now ready to accept his feelings for the narrator. But, then again, is the narrator ready, willing, and/or able to respond in kind after all this time? The moody, melancholy sound of the music—which sounds like a more or less acoustic track enhanced with electronic instrumentation—suggests not.

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