"Release" [US limited edition with bonus disc]
Sanctuary Records (06076-84554-2)
Release Date: April 23, 2002

Release is the Pet Shop Boys' eighth album (not including greatest hits, remix, or B-side albums). Sonically, the music on Release sounds more laid back, and the guitars are a bit higher in the mix than one would normally expect on a Pet Shop Boys album. Johnny Marr from The Smiths plays guitar on most of the tracks on the album.

The album opens with "Home And Dry," a song about the speaker's significant other being far away; the speaker misses this person, and waits for them to return. "I Get Along" sees the speaker in the song being dumped by their significant other and having to go on without that person in their life; this song has a bit of a "Beatlesque" feel to it. "Birthday Boy" samples The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge performing "In The Bleak Midwinter"; lyrically, the song makes quite a few allusions to Jesus Christ, but there is one line that definitely does not fit in with this idea ("Birthday boy/so afraid/plays the machines/in the arcade"). "London" is a story told from the point of view of a couple of soldiers who have fled from their duty and go to London to find employment as well as to have a good time. "E-mail" talks about using e-mail to communicate with someone far away and wanting to say "I love you," but not knowing if the other person reciprocates that feeling. "The Samurai In Autumn" is the most upbeat and synthesizer-based song on the album, and only has three lines of vocal that ever appear in the song ("It's not as easy as it was/or as difficult as it could be/for the Samurai in autumn). In "Love Is A Catastrophe," the speaker is bitter when it comes to love, because all they have had is bad experiences. In "Here," the speaker is telling someone that no matter how bad that person's life gets, that the speaker will be on that person's side. "The Night I Fell In Love" tells the story of a boy meeting up with a performer backstage and the two end up having an "intimate encounter"; there are lines in the song that make it very clear that the performer in question is none other than bad boy rapper Eminem ("Then he joked 'Hey, man! Your name isn't Stan, is it? We should be together!'" and "Over breakfast made jokes about Dre and his homies and folks"). The album closes with "You Choose," a song with the message about how things don't simply happen to you, you choose to have them happen (such as falling in love and getting drunk).

This version of Release came with a bonus CD, which is an enhanced disc. When you put this disc into your computer, you go through an opening that shows you the four different covers for the limited edition version of the album, then you go to a rather simple menu. The menu choices are: "Watch" (which allows you to watch the "Home And Dry" video), "Listen" (listen to the audio tracks on the disc), and "Exit." The video for "Home And Dry" features mice running around the streets, foraging for food; there are also three shots of the Pet Shop Boys "performing" the song. The first audio track is "Home And Dry [Ambient Mix]," which is a a slower, more synthesizer-based version of the song; this mix gives the song a different texture and opens it up to a a new interpretation. "Sexy Northerner" is upbeat and more synthesizer-based, although there is some guitar in it; lyrically, the song is much more "fun" than much of the material on the Release album. "Always" is a slower, synthesizer-based song about someone who can't take criticism, makes a lot of mistakes, and is unwilling to stand up for themselves; this song is a little on the long side, though, and probably would have been better if it was shorter. "Closer To Heaven [Slow Version]" is a slowed down, more stripped back version of this song, which originally appeared on the Nightlife album. However, this version takes much too long to get started; if this track was a couple of minutes shorter, it probably would have been stronger. "Nightlife" is an upbeat "disco sounding" song, which is about enjoying the night life; there are times in the song when Neil Tennant sings in a falsetto. "Friendly Fire" is made up of piano, strings, and some synthesizer; it's a song about dealing with fame and falling out of public favor and coming under "friendly fire" in the media. "Break 4 Love [US Radio Edit]" is an upbeat dance track that Neil Tennant recorded with producer Peter Rauhofer; the song is about being in love with someone and promising to always be there with them. The disc closes with "Home And Dry [Blank & Jones Mix]," which is a much more upbeat mix of the song designed to make it more "club friendly"; the mix takes about two minutes to get going, but it's not too bad of a remix.

This limited edition version of Release should be in the collection of a Pet Shop Boys fan. However, for those people who tend to prefer the Pet Shop Boys' more upbeat dance material, then this album may not be for them.

(reviewed by Lesley Muir on January 21, 2003)

Pet Shop Boys
Release [US limited edition with bonus disc]
Sanctuary Records (06076-84554-2)
CD 1
  • Home And Dry
  • I Get Along
  • Birthday Boy
  • London
  • E-mail
  • The Samurai In Autumn
  • Love Is A Catastrophe
  • Here
  • The Night I Fell In Love
  • You Choose

All songs on this disc written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe except
"London" written by Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, and Chris Zippel

All songs on this disc produced by Pet Shop Boys except
"London" produced by Chris Zippel
CD 2
  • Home And Dry [Ambient Mix]
  • Sexy Northerner
  • Always
  • Closer To Heaven [Slow Version]
  • Nightlife
  • Friendly Fire
  • Break 4 Love [US Radio Edit]
  • Home And Dry [Blank & Jones Mix]

This is an enhanced CD, which includes the music video for "Home And Dry"

All songs on this disc written by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe except
"Break 4 Love" written by Vaughan Mason

All songs on this disc produced by Pet Shop Boys except
"Nightlife" produced by Pet Shop Boys and David Morales
"Friendly Fire" produced by Pet Shop Boys and Craig Armstrong
"Break 4 Love" produced by Peter Rauhofer

"Home And Dry [Ambient Mix]" mixed by Pet Shop Boys and Pete Gleadall
"Home And Dry [Blank & Jones Mix]" mixed by Piet Blank and Jaspa Jones
Review © 2003 Lesley Muir Aeschliman
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