Introspective, the third studio album by Pet Shop Boys, is a bundle of contradictions: a new album of its era but not quite an album in any traditional sense; the duo’s best international seller at that point before the music industry took a seismic shift away from their synth-pop perfection; a project where every track was meant to be a single but only some ended up that way… Even the album’s genesis – the song I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too) – was extracted early for the B-side of Heart, the final single released from Introspective’s predecessor, Actually.
Listen to ‘Introspective’ here.
“I think this is our most imperial album”
But any suggestion this 1988 six-song set lacks focus is wide of the mark; it’s arguably the pair at the peak of their power. “I think this is our imperial album,” said Neil Tennant on its expanded reissue as part of the Further Listening collection in 2001. “The one where we felt, making it, that we understood the essence of pop music and so we felt we could do as we liked. And this is what we wanted to do.”
What they did was assemble six outstanding tracks with one common denominator: a simple consistency in keeping the songs long. The idea was to release the recordings from the restraint of the typical three- to four-minute pop format, allowing them to evolve into more complex musical constructions. This was, after all, at a time when remixes were largely confined to stretching radio cuts with extra instrumentation at the beginning or end of a song. Pet Shop Boys helped to change all of that, but the idea to create an entire album from the concept was still a relative novelty (the duo had released the remix collection Disco in 1986, and Madonna had moved the idea forward with 1987’s You Can Dance).