What is the best Pet Shop Boys album ever? [UPDATE 2020]
A kind of discography review
To find out which is the best Pet Shop Boys album, I did the work and rated every single album track by track. I summarized the result in a ranking and would like to present this to you here. At the end of the article, the values are again clearly arranged, shown chronologically in a curve graph.
The best Pet Shop Boys album charts
Release: 2012 Overall Rating: 3.17 Great tracks: Ego Music, Memory Of The Future Weak tracks: (None)
What disappointed me most about this album was the large number of mediocre songs. In principle, there are no really bad tracks on the album, but there are also no real highlights.
Release: 1993 Overall Rating: 3.25 Great tracks: Can You Forgive Her?, I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing, Yesterday, When I Was Mad Weak tracks: (None)
I’m not 100% sure, but I guess ‘Very’ is the most commercially successful album of Pet Shop Boys. For me the most annoying track is ‘Go West’ which for many is a radio all-time evergreen. If a drunken gun club is roaring a synthpop song at a dingy corner pub, then that’s just wrong. Despite the general mediocrity, there are some nice 90s synth tracks here.
Release: 1997 Overall Rating: 3.63 Great tracks: Discoteca, Single, Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is), A Red Letter Day, Before, To Step Aside Weak tracks: (None)
If someone would ask me for a typical 90’s synthpop sound example, this album would surely be one of my first places to go. A good half of the album ‘Bilingual’ are 4 star ratings and therefore an above-average overall work. Also the concept of bilingualism plus the Latin American melodies and sounds makes the album especially worth listening to and recommendable.
Release: 2002 Overall Rating: 3.7 Great tracks: Home And Dry, London, E-Mail, The Samurai In Autumn, Love Is A Catastrophe, Here Weak tracks: (None)
At the beginning of 2000 it seemed really bad with good releases in the Synth Pop genre. The whole scene was in an almost lethargic state. So it was all the more pleasing when Pet Shop Boys released the album ‘Release’ which is full of many great songs. Incredibly varied, creative and catchy like in the 80s, but in a new modern style.
Release: 1999 Overall Rating: 3.75 Great tracks: For Your Own Good, Closer To Heaven, I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More, Happiness Is An Option, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk, Radiophonic, Only One, New York City Boy Weak tracks: (None)
The album ‘Nightlife’ with the disco hit ‘New York City Boy’ was one of my highlights in 1999. The album is full of fantastic Electropop songs that invite you to dance.
Release: 1986 Overall Rating: 4 Great tracks: Two Divided By Zero, West End Girls, Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money), Love Comes Quickly, Suburbia, Why Don’t We Live Together? Weak tracks: (None)
The placements of the albums from here on are really only relative. Even this placement is an overall 4-star album with timeless classics and high-quality compositions. My absolute PSB favourite song ‘Love Comes Quickly’ is also on the debut and definitely belongs on every CD shelf of an Electropop fan. A total of four 5 star ratings are represented here. I think this is one of the strongest debut works of all time in the whole Electropop genre.
BTW: I already had this album on the original cassette as a child and let it run in a continuous loop until it was inaudible. I love this album! Despite the nostalgic feelings for this album, the last half of the album isn’t so strong and is overtaken by other works in the ranking.
Release: 2020 Overall Rating: 4.15 Great tracks: Will O The Wisp, You Are The One, Happy People, Dreamland, Hoping For A Miracle, I Don’t Wanna, Monkey Business, Only The Dark, Buring The Heather Weak tracks: (None)
The album was produced and mixed by Stuart Price and it is the third part of the trilogy produced by Price, which started in 2013 with ‘Electric‘ and the second part ‘Super‘ was released in 2016. With the album ‘Hotspot’ the Pet Shop Boys have laid a foundation stone. This is what modern Electropop sounds like in the new decade! Read our album review here.
Release: 1990 Overall Rating: 4.15 Great tracks: Being Boring, This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave, How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?, Only The Wind, My October Symphony, So Hard, The End Of The World, Jealousy Weak tracks: (None)
When bittersweet melancholy meets nostalgia, the song ‘Being Boring’ by Pet Shop Boys is the anthem to it. This special feature packed into an easy-sounding Electropop song can’t be achieved as well as by Neil and Chris. The sound of the album is also very special. It still has many typical sounds, instruments and samples from the 80s, but it also fits wonderfully into the 90s.
Release: 2016 Overall Rating: 4.17 Great tracks: Happiness, The Pop Kids, Twenty-Something, Groovy, The Dictator Decides, Undertow, Sad Robot World, Say It To Me, Burn, Into Thin Air Weak tracks: (None)
I immediately fell in love with the song ‘The Pop Kids’. I knew a fantastic Pet Shop Boys album was coming and I wasn’t disappointed. It felt like the Pet Shop Boys were gaining momentum again with this album. The album sounds almost like a ‘Best of’. All songs are super catchy and sound fresh like never before. Read our album review here.
Release: 2009 Overall Rating: 4.18 Great tracks:Love Etc., All Over The World, Beautiful People, Did You See Me Coming?, Vulnerable, More Than A Dream, Building A Wall, Pandemonium, The Way It Used To Be Weak tracks: (None)
Electropop music at its finest is also featured on the 2009 album ‘Yes’. The minimalistic album title and the cover artwork let the Electropop fan immediately recognize that it is a typical Pet Shop Boys work. And that’s exactly how it behaves with the content. Romantic and dreamy would be the generic terms if I had to describe the album briefly. And especially recommendable to raise the mood. Read our album review here. The album ‘Yes’ is also part of the article ‘20 Synth Pop milestones and collection must-haves‘.
Release: 2006 Overall Rating: 4.21 Great tracks: Psychological, The Sodom & Gomorrah Show, I Made My Excuses And Left, Minimal, Numb, Luna Park, I’m With Stupid, Casanova In Hell, Twentieth Century, Indefinite Leave To Remain Weak tracks: God Willing
The album offers so much variety. From the classic radio hot rotation track to the danceable club hit and up to the extremely emotional ballad that brings tears to your eyes. So beautiful and powerful is almost every song composed on ‘Fundamental’. If Electrozombies had already been online as a magazine in 2006, this would have been a sure candidate for the album of the year.
Release: 2013 Overall Rating: 4.22 Great tracks: Bolshy, Love Is A Bourgeois Construct, Fluorescent, Inside A Dream, The Last To Die, Shouting In The Evening, Thursday, Vocal Weak tracks: (None)
The album ‘Electric’ now doesn’t have as many 5 star ratings as the albums before, but also has less weak tracks to offer. Of course, this raises the overall score a lot. Especially noteworthy is the song ‘Vocal’, which I have enclosed deep in my heart. The album cover completely does without typography. And what should I say? It works! This is a first-class Pet Shop Boys album in terms of content and design. Read our album review here.
Release: 1987 Overall Rating: 4.5 Great tracks: One More Chance, What Have I Done To Deserve This, Shopping, Rent, Hit Music, It Couldn’t Happen Here, It’s A Sin, I Want To Wake Up, Heart, King’s Cross Weak tracks: (None)
Seen as a complete work the ‘Actually’ is my favourite album by Pet Shop Boys. The songs on this masterpiece get only 4 and 5-star ratings from me. For me, this is the perfect Electropop album with cult status and it still doesn’t rank first in this list. It feels like the album is ranked first for me, but only the relentless track by track rating counts for comparison. And yes, at the ‘Great tracks’ all songs of the album are listed.
Release: 1988 Overall Rating: 4.58 Great tracks: Left To My Own Devices, I Want A Dog, Domino Dancing, I’m Not Scared, Always On My Mind/In My House, It’s Alright Weak tracks: (None)
The mini-album ‘Introspective’ with 6 gorgeous tracks in the 4 to 5-star range makes the race for the best Pet Shop Boys album ever. At least from the rational track by track point of view. Also here all songs are listed at the ‘Great tracks’ because this album presents itself almost flawless.
All Pet Shop Boys albums in a chart overview
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Bonus – Electrozombies Pet Shop Boys tribute compilation ‘Prism’
To honour the band, we have released a tribute compilation in 2016. If you might have missed it, go and get it now: