Released - 2002
Chart peak - UK #7, US #73

Visitors' rating (plurality): ★★★☆☆
Visitors' rating (rounded average): ★★★☆☆
Wayne's rating: ★★★☆☆

These star-ratings reflect how PSB albums compare to each other—not how they compare to albums by other artists. Remember that an "average" (three-star) PSB album is, at least as far as I'm concerned, an excellent album by pop/rock standards in general.

Most of the Boys' first album of the 21st century (if you don't count the Closer to Heaven original cast album) was recorded at Neil's country home in northern England. Because they felt ready for a 180° turn after spending so much time working on the highly "synthesized" music of Closer to Heaven, it turned out to be quite a departure for them: a "rock ballad album" that features generally slower songs with a greater guitar presence than ever before. To facilitate this new "guitar sound," the Boys recruited their old friend and collaborator, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who appears on more than half of the tracks. And Neil plays a good deal of guitar on the album as well. Nevertheless, many of the guitar sounds are actually samples played by Chris on the keyboard.

A major goal of this album was to create, in Chris's words, "a Neil and Chris record"—a rather "personal" collection that focuses on "story songs," with greater emphasis on lyrics than on Nightlife, strong melodies, and simpler arrangements that demonstrate the Boys' skills as musicians. Although they had originally considered titling the album Home (perhaps because it had indeed been recorded at Neil's home), its ultimate title was provided by Wolfgang Tillmans, the creator of the video for "Home and Dry." It's a multiple-entendre, suggesting emotional release, sexual release, the springtime release of pollen by flowers, and of course the release of a new recording. In particular, Neil considered the album a temporary "release from dance music," which he apparently felt was a bit too prevalent in pop music of the period, as well as a release for him "to put all this personal stuff into the songs." He has even gone so far as to say that "on this album there are no assumed characters at all"—though that's surely an overstatement in light of such songs as "London" and "The Night I Fell in Love," in which he's indisputably adopting other narrative personae.

Speaking of flowers, the CD packaging is available in no fewer than six different versions: a standard version (shown above), four textured/embossed "special versions" available in different colors—black, red, aqua, and pink, each depicting a different type of flower—and a "Japanese version," which resembles the standard version except the flower is red and the background white.

Top Picks by Voter Ratings

  1. Home and Dry
  2. London
  3. Here

Wayne's Top Picks

  1. Birthday Boy
  2. I Get Along
  3. London

Release Bonus Disc

A limited edition of Release offered a bonus disc with several remixes and other recent tracks not on the "album proper," including several single b-sides.

2017 Reissue Further Listening

In 2017, Release was one of several PSB albums reissued with either one or two bonus Further Listening discs that included several alternate mixes of some of the original album's songs, other tracks recorded around the same time, and the associated single b-sides. These b-side songs had previously been released on their Format compilation; the links below to those b-sides take you to my pages for those songs in my Format section. Other links take you to other appropriate sections of my website.

Further Listening 2001–2004