Legendary British cultural treasures the Pet Shop Boys have released a new single, the creeping orchestral cut ‘Cricket Wife’.
Far removed from their days as scrappy young upstarts, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are in solid legacy mode, seeing how far they can push their signature sound without fully erasing what makes them so indelible in the first place. ‘Cricket Wife’ comes with a full string and horn arrangement as if the boys abandoned their synthesisers and instead found new inspiration in scores of sheet music.
‘Cricket Wife’, it should be pointed out, is ten goddamn minutes long. Ambitious and sprawling? Absolutely. Occasionally formless? Of course. But this one of the few duos who have actually earned the right to be as indulgent as they want to be. The good news is that ‘Cricket wife’ keeps adding fresh twists and turns to the proceedings, with new motifs and ideas being thrown into the stew once the old ones become well-worn.
I’m far too much of a Yankee to know if “Cricket Wives” are a fairly common thing in England, or if it’s just another irreverent observation from Tennant about the contrasts between posh and drab Britannia.
One of the greatest aspects of the Pet Shop Boys experience is falling down their own self-made United Kingdom, one where traditionalist values chafe against modernistic trends and futuristic sounds. It’s so vivid that even someone who grew up Stateside, like myself, can relate to it and get lost in it.
I also love that the ‘Cricket wife’ single comes with yet another version of ‘West End Girls’, as if that’s what the world really needs. This version, helpfully subtitled ‘Lockdown version’, isn’t going to challenge the original for sonic superiority, but it does show the unkillable drive of ‘West End Girls’, a song that will now and forever be evergreen.
Check out the audio for ‘Cricket Wife’, in all it’s ten minute splendor, down below.