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Best Pet Shop Boys Albums: All 15 Studio Albums, Ranked And Reviewed
List & Guides

Best Pet Shop Boys Albums: All 15 Studio Albums, Ranked And Reviewed

Making you think as powerfully as you felt, the best Pet Shop Boys albums underpin the group’s staggeringly smart legacy.

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The best Pet Shop Boys albums prove why Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are the most successful British musical duo in history. Here, we rank and review all 15 of their studio records and showcase the evolution of a musical style that’s shifted over time, but which has always remained fundamentally their own. From 1986’s Please to 2024’s Nonetheless, there have been plenty of surprises along the way.

Listen to the best of Pet Shop Boys here, and check out the best Pet Shop Boys albums, below.

Best Pet Shop Boys Albums: The Complete Studio Discography, Ranked

15: ‘Release’ (2002)

Issued in the spring of 2002, Release is the sound of Pet Shop Boys dialling down the pop for a moodier opus dominated by… guitars! Creatively, the duo were exploring new directions (the Tennant-Lowe musical, Closer To Heaven, had opened in 2001) because the musical landscape of the early 2000s was so rigidly polarised by genres such as indie-rock or teen-oriented froth, with little apparent interest in intelligent electro-pop or the now commonplace affection for those billed “heritage acts”. Lead single Home And Dry is downbeat, and things don’t lighten up much thereafter: The Samurai In Autumn is the closest we get to a banger, while I Get Along is the album’s most obvious chorus. The gorgeous The Night I Fell In Love is the single that should have been – a classic Pet Shop Boys melody that got fans speculating on its autobiographical authenticity.

Must hear: The Night I Fell In Love

14: ‘Bilingual’ (1996)

Given the growing dominance of Latin music in contemporary pop, its influence on PSB’s sixth album was a safe bet after the commercial triumph that was 1993’s Very. Amid ballads and uptempo material, To Step Aside is the album’s hidden gem, but the more familiar Latin stomper Single (billed as Single-Bilingual when issued as a standalone release) and the slick Before got most of the airplay. The retro throwback Saturday Night Fever is an odd closing cut on a fundamentally schizophrenic but nonetheless interesting entry among the best Pet Shop Boys albums, with A Red-Letter Day and Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Love Is) up there as classic PSB singles.

Must hear: Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Love Is)

13: ‘Nightlife’ (1999)

Famously, Nightlife wrapped up the previous 15 years of musical enterprise in a 12-track collection that’s, frankly, hard to characterise. Despite its title, the duo’s seventh studio set isn’t especially club-oriented, although New York City Boy (recorded with dance legend David Morales) was then perhaps the band’s campest moment since Go West. A duet with Kylie Minogue, In Denial, wasn’t the record’s centrepiece as many expected (it would later be resurrected for Closer To Heaven), while lead single I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore is a precisely crafted stomper that deserves greater focus these days. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk is a gorgeous country-influenced ballad that would be PSB’s first Top 10 hit of the 21st century, and the highest-charting of the three singles lifted from the album.

Must hear: You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk

12: ‘Fundamental’ (2006)

PSB’s reunion with Trevor Horn (who helmed the classic Left To My Own Devices) is a richly orchestrated affair. He would drench many of Fundamental’s 12 tracks in strings, and that added to much of the record’s reputation as a textured, challenging listen among the best Pet Shop Boys albums. Neil Tennant’s writing here was politically leaning, most obviously on the satirical lead single I’m With Stupid, a savage attack on the Blair-Bush relationship, which was then mired in controversy. Minimal offers light relief as an effective electro-pop earworm, while the Diane Warren composition Numb – originally earmarked for the band’s PopArt compilation – settles in among grander surroundings. The album is dedicated to two gay Iranian teenagers executed in 2005, and, while sales of Fundamental fell short of the duo’s commercial peaks, critics raved about it.

Must hear: Minimal

11: ‘Elysium’ (2012)

Billed the band’s Los Angeles album (it was recorded on the West Coast), Elysium, produced by Kanye West collaborator Andrew Dawson, is a slick, delicate grower that contains many of Tennent and Lowe’s own favourite Pet Shop Boys tracks. The gorgeous Leaving is one of Tennant’s picks, while Winner is a bombastic fancy once offered to One Direction to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest. The duo’s lean towards musical theatre (in evidence, of course, right from their beginnings) is here most obvious on Hold On, but there are further flashes on tracks such as Everything Means Something. The album’s third single, Memory Of The Future, is a hypnotic, icy electro-chiller, but the grand and gorgeous closing number, Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin, is perhaps the song that smartly brings together everything Elysium represents.

Must hear: Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin

10: ‘Hotspot’ (2020)

Coming after two club records (2013’s Electric and 2016’s Super), the final chapter of PSB’s Stuart Price-produced trilogy was a more challenging proposition. Dreamland, the duet with Olly Alexander’s Years & Years, should have been a bigger hit, but the whole album’s commercial fate would be swept up in the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted the duo’s tour plans and threw all promotional planning up in the air (Alexander would eventually perform the track with Pet Shop Boys at the 2022 Glastonbury Festival). With Hotspot largely recorded in Berlin, Price would score a writing credit on the terrific Monkey Business, which arguably became the record’s most familiar moment when issued as a single in early 2020. Burning The Heather is a wistful, mellow highlight, while Wedding In Berlin pumps out a number of interesting Pet Shop Boys dance shapes. Fast approaching their 40th anniversary as professional musicians, this was evidence that the pair’s clubbing days weren’t yet behind them.

Must hear: Monkey Business

9: ‘Yes’ (2009)

Almost a decade into the new millennium, Yes marked the moment when Pet Shop Boys were rightly reappraised as musical royalty. An Outstanding Contribution award at the BRITs at the start of 2009 certainly made it official in the eyes of the industry, but one must argue that the same year’s album did just as convincing a job for everyone else. The teaming with pop production powerhouse Xenomania – responsible for era-defining hits for Cher, Alesha Dixon, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Girls Aloud and Sugababes, among others – seems entirely obvious, but lead producer Brian Higgins had reservations about collaborating with another established act (he’d just finished a difficult project with Franz Ferdinand), and Pet Shop Boys had long established their own way of working. “We wanted to be the whole album to be colourful pop,” Chris Lowe recalled, and what emerged certainly fulfilled that brief. From lead-single stomper Love Etc. to the bombastic All Over The World and the glorious disco of More Than A Dream, this was largely pop with a capital “P”. There are reflective moments, such as the gorgeous King Of Rome and the more charismatic Legacy, but Yes is the 21st-century hit machine that came closest to sounding like the duo’s “imperial phase” of the late 80s.

Must hear: Did You See Me Coming?

8: ‘Electric’ (2013)

Despite remix projects such as 1986’s influential Disco, PSB had by the 2010s yet to create a definitive club record. Their first long-form collaboration with Stuart Price, who had arguably made his name helming Madonna’s Confessions On A Dance Floor, would be that overdue project. The blistering Axis opens the record and serves as a comprehensive summary for all that would follow in this high-octane entry among the best Pet Shop Boys songs. Love Is A Bourgeois Construct drew from a baroque Henry Purcell hook written centuries earlier, so the influences continued to surprise (how about that cover of Bruce Springsteen’s The Last To Die?), but, in such accomplished hands, the record masterfully gels. The guest contribution from UK rapper Example on Thursday is, oddly, Electric’s poppiest and most obvious moment, but the pace rarely slackens.

Must hear: Vocal

7: ‘Super’ (2016)

Unlucky for some, but not Pet Shop boys: Tennant and Lowe’s 13th album continued the duo’s winning streak with another slick collaboration with Stuart Price, which very much picked up where its predecessor left off (“Electric but more so” was part of the record’s promotional pitch). Lead single The Pop Kids has more sophisticated lyrics than much of the record, but Super isn’t a project that would measure its success by how much it had to say. Instead, it is about feeling and those enormous slabs of sounds, and it generates a largely frenzied experience. The lovely Sad Robot World offers some respite but, even then, its edging intensity softly deceives. Laser-focused bangers predominate, and Burn’s Hi-NRG blasts are the soundtrack to a night carousing through London’s gay clubs that you would be best to forget in the haze of the morning after. The best Pet Shop Boys album covers have always been inventive, and if Super had been issued with a scratch’n’sniff sleeve, the delicious, illicit aroma of poppers might have been the obvious choice.

Must hear: Inner Sanctum

6: ‘Nonetheless’ (2024)

Returning to a major record label after three years issuing records on their own imprint, Pet Shop Boys perfectly sequenced their DNA for 2024’s Nonetheless. Dancing Star could be the companion track to 1988’s Domino Dancing, this time taking inspiration from New York’s early-80s dance scene; Loneliness draws obvious comparison with 1990’s So Hard or 1993’s Can You Forgive Her? In short, it’s a greatest-hits record created exclusively from new material. There’s even space for nods back to Release on The Schalger Hit Parade. A New Bohemia is one of those grand Pet Shop Boys ballads; Feel one of their strongest pop melodies to date… and so it goes on. If you need to offer anyone a crash-course in Pet Shop Boys, Nonetheless is surely the set text.

Must hear: Feel

5: ‘Introspective’ (1988)

Created at the close of their much-documented “imperial phase” of critical and commercial success, six tracks were all that was needed to shape the perfect mini-album. And what tracks! Four of them had been or would be singles in their own right: Introspective included a brilliant rework of the 1987 UK Christmas No.1, Always On My Mind. A cover of the Sterling Void and Marshall Jefferson house classic It’s Alright, issued as a single in 1989 and another big chart success, showed that Tennant and Lowe continued to draw on dance music for inspiration. The charismatic collaboration with Freestyle legend Lewis Martinee, Domino Dancing, would go Top 20, while the Trevor Horn collaboration Left To My Own Devices routinely tops polls of the best Pet Shop Boys song of all time. PSB also here issue their own take on I’m Not Scared, their hit collaboration with Patsy Kensit’s Eighth Wonder from earlier that year, leaving just the Frankie Knuckles-partnered I Want A Dog without any wider airing.

Must hear: Left To My Own Devices

4: ‘Very’ (1993)

Amazingly, the only Pet Shop Boys album to top the British charts (and that even includes compilations), Very offers clear reasons for the duo’s commercial success: they are fundamentally geniuses when it comes to crafting singles, and Very is packed with them. For much of PSB’s commercial heyday, the singles were all-consuming. A witty dance-pop confection, Can You Forgive Her? opens the album and was picked as its lead single; Go West was their biggest hit of the 90s and as colourful a cover of a Village People track as you can imagine (so “Pet Shop Boys” that Tennant admits today he forgets that they didn’t write it); I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Type Of Thing has a gorgeous 60s-influenced melody; Yesterday When I Was Mad is a trippy club-pop banger; and Liberation is the customary stately ballad. Seven other songs complete the set, and at least a couple could have been issued as singles as well. The highlight of that “should-have-been-a-single” list? The undoubtedly Stock Aitken Waterman-influenced time-capsule One In A Million. It’s gloriously 90s.

Must hear: Can You Forgive Her?

3: ‘Please’ (1986)

Almost everything about Pet Shop Boys was present and correct right at the very start. While it’s fair to say that Neil Tennant’s vocal has rarely sounded as delicate as it did on Later Tonight, and Violence is so of its era that, today, it’s almost a parody, the pair’s masterful gift of compulsive melody is threaded through all ten of Please’s brilliant tracks. Everyone knows the hits – most obviously the global No.1 West End Girls and the exquisite Love Comes Quickly (how did this miss the UK Top 10?) – but Tonight Is Forever is so strong that it was later dusted down for Liza Minnelli’s Pet Shop Boys-produced Results album (1989), while Why Don’t We Live Together? echoes Madonna’s seminal Into The Groove. Some of Stephen Hague’s production tricks place this collection towards the epicentre of the decade that launched the duo, but Please’s more than three million global sales would confirm its longevity among the best Pet Shop Boys albums.

Must hear: Love Comes Quickly

2: ‘Behaviour’ (1990)

The late 80s were an increasingly fragmented and fractious time for so many, and Pet Shop Boys would use this tension to create the most gorgeous, lush record of their career. Vintage synthesisers were picked to generate a rich warmth for songs as achingly beautiful as To Face The Truth and as melancholic as Only The Wind. The record’s heart, the classic standard Being Boring, would seize on the horror of the ongoing AIDS crisis as its inspiration and develop a reputation that eventually eclipsed its highly regarded parent album. The upbeat moments – 90s romper The End Of The World and confident launch single So Hard – offer rare excursions to the dancefloor, as Behaviour was the moment when Pet Shop Boys, amazingly, managed to once again push their lyrical focus up a further notch. It was clear they now wanted you to think as powerfully as you felt when listening to their material. Still, there was little need for compromise: those ambitions blended effortlessly with writing as strong as this.

Must hear: Being Boring

1: ‘Actually’ (1987)

In 1987, Pet Shop Boys came to dominate European pop culture and even made a decent stab of convincing the more conservative North American market. Once It’s A Sin made UK No.1 at the start of July in all its pomp and theatrical glory, the chart victories came routinely, and tracks as strong as What Have I Done To Deserve This? and Rent felt like No.1s even when they weren’t (the former went to No.2 on both sides of the Atlantic, while Rent was Top 10 across Europe). Heart did hit the top spot in the duo’s homeland in early 1988 – astonishing considering it was the album’s fourth single (and followed the omnipresent Always On My Mind) – and other tracks could easily have been extracted from the album for their own moment in the sun. Shopping is a joyous romp; King’s Cross a moody, poignant period-piece; I Want To Wake Up understated Hi-NRG; and Hit Music a madcap political manifesto for the UK’s most successful pop partnership. Topping this list of the best Pet Shop Boys albums, Actually just outranks the widely critically-acclaimed Behaviour on youthful exuberance, and it confirms that Pet Shop Boys’ legacy is built on a back catalogue of brilliant memories.

Must hear: It’s A Sin

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