Released - 1993
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.
After the summation of Discography, a lot of people thought it was all over for PSB. And then came the stunning Very. If Behaviour is the Pet Shop Boys' "downer" album, then Very is their "up" album, characterized by insistent Eurodisco beats and treble timbre. Neil and Chris have acknowledged this contrast, stating that they had "decided to do a mega dance-pop album." It was also the first of their albums in which they themselves served as the main producers. Neil noted that he wrote many of the album's lyrics while being in the full flush of love, which explains the heady, almost love-happy mood of such songs as "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" and "Liberation." The result is a brilliant album of breathtaking beauty, variety, and excitement, cited by many critics at the time as one of the best of 1993 and, in the years since, as the pinnacle (so far) of the Boys career.
The public similarly recognized its quality: it proved to be the Boys' first (and only) U.K #1 album, while in the U.S. it became their second-highest-charting album ever. Very is also noteworthy for its highly innovative (and now discontinued) "orange Lego®" CD jewel box, which won a major design award and is featured in an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art. As for the album title, Neil and Chris settled on it simply because they thought the collection sounded "very Pet Shop Boys."
Top Picks by Voter Ratings
Wayne's Top Picks
- Can You Forgive Her?
- I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing
- A Different Point of View
- Dreaming of the Queen
- Yesterday, When I Was Mad
- The Theatre
- One and One Make Five
- To Speak Is a Sin
- Young Offender
- One in a Million
- Go West
A very personal note about this album…
As I note elsewhere on this website, Very is my own favorite Pet Shop Boys album. In fact, I would include it among my four or five favorite albums of all time, period, by any artist. But there's more to it than the sheer quality of the music, which in and of itself is astounding. It's the fact that it means so much to me personally. It's probably not inaccurate for me to say that this is true for a very large segment of my generation of gay men. At least here in the United States—and probably in a number of other countries as well—it's not at all unusual to find this album in the collections of gay male baby-boomers. In fact, based on personal experience and observation, I would say it's downright commonplace.
When I bought Very back in 1993, I had the immediate sense I was getting something very special. That unique textured bright orange jewel case set the stage right from the outset. But the songs quickly validated that initial sentiment. Never before had I heard an album of such quality in which every wonderful song, track after track, spoke so directly to me as a gay man.
The shadow of AIDS hung over the album, as it did over us all at the time. Friends and acquaintances in the prime of life were dying around us at an alarming rate. We felt as though we were living under a death sentence. And yet, despite that, here was an album that, while fully acknowledging our sorrows and fears, nevertheless celebrated our lives, offering hope and encouragement.
I sometimes wonder whether Neil and Chris fully comprehend and appreciate what they achieved with this album. When I first met the Boys in person after one of their concerts, Neil asked me what my favorite PSB album was. I told him without a moment's hesitation. "Oh," Neil smiled, "you're one of those," as if loving Very that much was vaguely cultish. Of course, maybe Neil was just being a bit facetious. After all, he was smiling when he said it.
Well, maybe it is a little cultish. I loved Very then. I loved it when it first came out. I love it still. To be sure, there are many albums that I love. But this is one of the select few that I can honestly say that I'm deeply grateful for. And I'll always be grateful to the Pet Shop Boys for creating it. My life would have been poorer without it.
In short, as far as I'm concerned—though I'm far from alone in thinking this—Very is the Pet Shop Boys' crowning moment of awesome.
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