Love Is a Catastrophe

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2002
Original album - Release
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

This song was written spontaneously in the studio on a bleak, windy day in November. As Neil told interviewer Martyn Dunn, he had said to a friend just the day before, "Falling in love is a catastrophe." His friend replied that Neil should write a song by that name. He didn't think anything of it until the next day, when he heard Chris playing a slow, mournful arpeggio on the keyboard. They decided then and there to build the song around it.

Chris composed the slow, dark, doleful music (which has the unusual characteristic, at least for PSB, of being in 6/8 time), to which Neil wrote the words based on his personal recent experience of profound disappointment in love. As Neil has said, it's "the darkest song I've ever written." In many ways a traditional "big rock ballad," it opens with sampled electric guitar played Chris on the keyboard. Several other instruments gradually join in: drums, bass, another guitar, and, toward the end, subdued synth strings in the background. The effect is one of building anger and disillusionment. And why not with opening lines like these?—"Love is a catastrophe. Look what it's done to me." The mood goes even farther downhill from there. Neil sings the most depressing, hopeless lyrics in the entire PSB canon—and that's saying a lot! In fact, the narrator of this song sounds positively suicidal as he suggests that Fate itself laughs at his plight.

Around the time of the album's release, Neil pointed out to an interviewer that his sister, who was visiting the studio at the time, read the lyrics even before they were recorded; she wound up crying over them. So the dark mood of this song is absolutely real—"and then," Neil says, "you move on."

Mixes

Officially released

List cross-references