Actually (stylised as Pet Shop Boys, actually.) is the second studio album by English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys, released on 7 September 1987 by Parlophone in the United Kingdom and by EMI Manhattan in North America. According to Neil Tennant and music historian Wayne Studer, Actually loosely critiques Thatcherism, the political zeitgeist of the 1980s, and was recorded in anticipation of Margaret Thatcher's re-election.Actually is featured in the 2005 musical reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, and has been recognised in various other 'must-listen' lists. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at number 22 in its list of the "40 Best Albums of the '80s". In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 88 on its list of the "Best Albums of the 1980s". In 2020, Rolling Stone placed it at number 435 on its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".Wikipedia
With their second album, Actually, the Pet Shop Boys perfected their melodic, detached dance-pop. Where most of Please was dominated by the beats, the rhythms on Actually are part of a series of intricate arrangements that create a glamorous but disposable backdrop for Neil Tennant's tales of isolation, boredom, money, and loneliness. Not only are the arrangements more accomplished, but the songs themselves are more striking, incorporating a strong sense of melody, as evidenced by "What Have I Done to Deserve This?," a duet with Dusty Springfield. Tennant's lyrics are clever and direct, chronicling the lives and times of urban, lonely, and bored yuppies of the late '80s. And the fact that dance-pop is considered a disposable medium by most mainstream critics and listeners only increases the reserved emotional undercurrent of Actually, as well as its irony.
The eighties were a mistake
5/5 Synthpop and politics are two things I've never thought of before this album, and to be honest I'm blown away! I had thought of synth pop mainly in the vein of one-off, mildly offensive songs like Mr. Roboto, or classic, yet still one-off, songs like Take Me On. There's a certain level of melancholy in Actually that pairs very well in opposition to the upbeat tone and... poppiness of synth pop as a genre. I found Rent to be particularly effective at this, with its short, cutting lyrics about unequal power dynamics paired with synth beats. The unmistakable critiques of British politics (ye olde Margaret Thatcher) and capitalism of the 1980s are also really interesting. It Couldn't Happen Here could easily be viewed as an analogy to the Sinclair Lewis book It Can't Happen Here, except with Thatcher in the driver's seat. Shopping also criticizes industrial privatization. Then there's also the gay subtext in songs like Its a Sin. The production of this album is very clean and in my opinion, its held up quite well. The lyrics are interesting, the instrumentals are varied (love the trombone/trumpet use) so the album doesn't feel too same-y, and a lot of the songs are quite catchy. This album is both highly accessible for members of the public, but also interesting from an analytical standpoint, and I find that that is a really rare and beautiful thing.
Skipping the first song on re-listens really added a star or two on this. I wonder how much impact the opening song on an album has on the ratings on this site. Sometimes it feels like a lot to listen to one new album every day, so first impressions really have to count. One More Chance is just so cheesy. The first 30 seconds sounds like an ad for babbys first sampler. Did that squeaky "ehh" sound really need to survive into the chorus? Past that song though, the album is great. Neil Tennant's vocals are always awesome. Distinctive and expressive without being showy. Pop songs are often in minor keys these days, but I feel like that was less common in the 80s (I might be wrong). The fairly sombre vocals combined with the accessible backdrops feel like a smiling friendly man waving you inside, only to regale you with sad tales of privatisation, religious repression, financially one-sided relationships, the impact of the focus on personal financial gain over personal relationships, and so on. But his voice is so nice that you stay and listen. This was a rollercoaster ride of "ohh I like the pet shop boys, let's have a listen... oh no this is cheesy and dated... actually this song aint bad, and this one, and this one, wait, is the only bad song the first one? yes actually. oh god thats the album name. Did they mean that? Surely not. Like the album giving you a weird cheesy pop song at the start and then saying... actually... and then giving you awesome song after awesome song. Like the way the chorus in Shopping makes you go, what the fuck is this about, then you read what its... actually... about... christ I'm overthinking this. Album good." Have I talked myself into five stars here? I think I have. Why not hey.
Nice, dancey. Very on-par with Depeche Mode without being as dark. Love the Dusty Springfield duet. Favorite tracks: "I Want to Wake Up", "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", "It's a Sin"
What Have I Done to Deserve This?
This is very Eighties, but not in a good way for me. Shoutout to "I love you, you pay my rent" as a lyric though.
Boy, that really didn't age well, did it? Gross.
Yes, actually a 5.
one of my fav albums now. amazing
Major game piece! Catchiness and fun, lyrical power and greay overall! Still getting covered by newer artists today
There's a lot of good vibes to this, really love their sound and especially the production. The singing is a little bit so and so, but i really enjoy it. Hit Music is infectious and funky, probably my favorite track off the whole album. 9/10 Best tracks: One More Chance, What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Rent, Hit Music, It's A Sin, Heart. Worst track: Shopping
So good. Owned this. So good so good so good.
One of my favorite bands. Love it.
What Have I Done to Deserve This Album? Love It ❤🌈
Five classic pop-singles + five very strong other tracks - clearly one of the best albums of the 80s.
This is a masterpiece of electronic pop/dance music. The undertone here is often melancholic, but even then with a hauting, yet melodious vibe. Still, there is variation between songs - listening through this gem never gets boring. We can find some well-known PSB songs from the 80s here (It's a Sin, What Have I Done to Deserve This?, Rent, Heart), but the lesser known songs are good as well, including two especially beautiful ballads (King's Cross/It couldn't happen here). This album is a classic. 5/5
Practically perfect synth pop. "It's A Sin" alone is worth price of admission, but everything else is so blissful and bouncy. Bravo!
"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" is a pop masterpiece. Overall, the synths were immaculate, and this is the peak of '80s dance-pop. What a catchy, poignant and ridiculously calming (for the soul) record. Except "Shopping". That was not the greatest thing.
It's my guilty secret that I can't help but like PSBs and this is my favourite. I bought it at the time and even went to see them in the 90's (with my girlfriend as cover). All 10 songs are of the highest quality- production, beat and style. The lyrics conjure up a glamourous and often sordid 80's highlife. It's unashamed and catchy.
Massive bias here, I already love the Pet Shop Boys. Dance music with a degree in Dostoevsky was never not going to appeal to my pretentiousness. The fact they can write about such bleak subject matter and not sound like your standard miserabalists is GENIUS. And the lyrics!
oh heck yeah. this is the new wave sound that i love and have been waiting for! actually is the definition of moody new wave. the lyrics and the tone of the music make it dark, but there's quite a beat throughout the album. it must the disco vibes! so many songs are just so catchy. "heart" and "hit music" embody that disco feeling! and how absolutely wonderful dusty springfield lended her voice for the "what have i done to deserve this?" duet. pet shop boys and dusty springfield are an unusual combination but one that paid off big. i've been looking forward to the pet shop boys on this list, and i'm so thrilled i was not disappointed. i do get nervous submitting 5s but i do know i will come back to this album and enjoy it more and more. final note: the album cover is such, such a mood.
The Pet Shop Boys came to my attention in 1986 with the album Please. I loved that album. But their release of 1987 of this album is what made me a huge fan. This is 80s perfection. I love every song on this album. From the absolutely phenomenal “It’s A Sin” to the sad elegy “It Couldn’t Happen Here”, this album mixes politics and personal stories deeply into these incredible electronic dance creations. One of the finest albums from the Pet Shop Boys, and one of the finest albums from the 80s, or any decade for that matter.
This album came out when I was 19. I had it on cassette and played it all the time in those days. It is one of the soundtracks to my college years, as well as a wonderful document of Britain in the the late 80s with its subtle references to Thatcherism. Having spent some time with Dusty Springfield's wonderful music in this project, I am so happy that this album helped to bring her back into the spotlight (and that Dusty in Memphis was Neil Tennant's favourite album!) I love the synth-pop sound, the dancy tracks, and the emotions in this. An absolute favorite then and now.
Classic synth-pop album, full of hits. It couldn't happen here and the last two are great, plus the Dusty track, and It's A Sin one of the best synth tracks of the 80's.
Didn’t expect to, but really got a kick out of this album! The beats were great, I found myself moving along to it in the kitchen - and the jabs at the privatization of the UK and Thatcherism were like a little cherry on top. Enjoyed meaning behind a genre often focused on partying - at least from what I know as a mostly outsider to electronic and dance.
Great - very of its time, and evocative. Will listen again!
No West End Girls? Still, pretty cool. I feel like I’m in a Delorian on my way to pick up some Ludes after a long day of day trading. Seriously though, this has a Pure 80s vibe and is solid all the way through. There are remnants of lot of what the Pet Shop Boys did here.
You cannot convince me this isnt a parody album of Britpop. Heavy Synth sounds and decent music, but the vocals are almost nonsensical. Particularly the Shopping-Rent-Hit Music run in the middle. The fact that Shopping is often used on British Shopping Channels makes it seem like the song was produced for that purpose rather than the song coming first.
It's a sin indeed. 10 seconds in I already felt the urge to turn it off. Came out of it with only two half-decent songs, salvaging a second star.
This was SO hard to get through. 'Actually' was a dated snooze-fest that barely held my interest throughout what felt like a terribly long listen (although this isn't long at all compared to some of the albums I have received so far on this list). To sum up my feelings on this one, all you need to do is look at the album cover as the yawning was a perfect representation of how I felt going through this album. I was just constantly unimpressed by anything on here. None of the instrumentals stood out to me as it just seemed like generic 80's synth-pop throughout with no catchy hooks. I also did not enjoy the singer's voice at all; while he has a unique tone, I found it pretty irritating and noticed that he sang every type of song the exact same way. The combination between annoying vocals and boring music ended up making this feel like a parody of everything it was trying to be which is about the worst thing I can say about an album from this genre. This is not an album that I can recommend anyone check out, and I am not sure how it can deserve a spot on this list at all. 'Actually' is the weakest album I have listened to so far. 1.5/5. NOTE: I went to check this one off of my list and saw that there are 3(!) Pet Shop Boys albums on this list. How?!?!?
— В Pet Shop Boys музыкальная сила и мудрость... — Вы любите Pet Shop Boys? — (подергивая плечами) Да-а — А какие альбомы предпочитаете? — (Протягивая руку) Да обычны... ну вот, пожалуйста, Actually. Нормальный альбом. Пацанский, хули. Слушать можно. — Похвалите ещё Pet Shop Boys. — (С заминкой) Ну как его похвалить... ну заебись альбом. Пиздатый альбом! Как его ещё похвалить бля... (небольшая усмешка, перерастающая в полноценный смешок) — А ещё пара красивых слов? — (Показывает большой палец) Не-въе-бен-ный альбом! — Спасибо. — (безразлично) Да на здоровье. (Ставит альбом на повтор) Вот оно — музыкальное золото!
80'er for fuld skrue. Alle de rigtige lyde, Juno's, Gated Snare, det HELE!
What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Dusty Springfield), Rent, It's a Sin, Heart. Se merecen un 5.
El pop fet art. Un altre dels grans discos que van fer bons els vuitanta, amb una sensibilitat artística (i lletrística) que molt pocs artistes han demostrat, tota ella al servei d’unes cançons inoblidables, tan fossin grans èxits del moment (‘It’s a Sin’, ‘What Have I Done…’, ‘Rent’, ‘Heart’…) com temes més amagats però igualment portentosos (‘It Couldn’Happen Here’, ‘I Want to Wake Up’, ‘One More Chance’)
A nice 80s pop-rock album, very atmospheric.
Knocking off a star because of Morrissey
I’m a big fan of Pet Shop Boys so this one was really fun. A great album with a lot to choose from!
Yay, more Pet Shop Boys! And this one has my two favorite songs by them (Heart and It's A Sin; Rent is really good too though). I gave this one two spins and enjoyed the first couple of tracks a lot more on the second go than the first. To be honest, this might be more of a 4 star album than a 5 star album... but Heart!
Flawless. By far their most consistent album, passing the acid test that listening to the album tracks without the singles shows no drop in quality.
fuckin awesome I mean, I’m not surprised, it’s easy for this genre to impress me 10/10
Very very very good. actually.
Great electro pop sound
I don’t need to do this one because… ok I will. I don’t need an excuse for listening to one of my all time favourite albums, (Later) Gosh. ‘Kings Cross’ is a masterpiece of observational melancholy. It shouldn’t work in the same album as ‘Heart’. Or the plaintive complaint of ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This’. That’s the thing about this album. The whole is a lot greater than its parts. Not so many artistes really think about putting together a complementary suite of songs nowadays, rather focusing on bangers and necessary fillers. This is the package. THE package.
Rent это sin
Loved it. Pure bliss.
I realize that I should have more Pet Shop Boys in my life.
Awesome album and not me most favorite album of theirs.
Actually ages and I still love it. This is my first listen of this remaster, which brings out the datedness of many of the instruments. Yet I can't find anything bad at a song level and looked excitedly forward through the end of the record. The laconic delivery pairs perfectly with the ironic tone, but the songs keep you dancing as well. The rare record you can enjoy earnestly while annoying your friends with.
Okay I've never heard these folks before but I actually really enjoyed this.
Very much a product of its time, but a damn good one.
New for me and great
Track Ranking: 1. It's A Sin - 9 2. One More Chance - 8 3. It Couldn't Happen Here - 8 4. What Have I Done To Deserve This? - 8 5. Hit Music - 7 6. Heartbeat - 7 7. Shopping - 7 8. Rent - 7 9. King's Cross - 7 10. I Want To Wake Up - 7
An all-time favorite album. I have to admit, I didn’t quite understand PSB until this album, and then I heard how tongue-in-cheek and smart their lyrics were. A 5-star classic.
What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Dusty Springfield), Rent, It's a Sin, Heart. Se merecen un 5.
This album is that famous "let's dance our troubles away" album. Great, until today!
Such a rich mix of politics and electro-pop, total joy to listen too.
Mitäää???????? Tämäkö ACHYALLY?? ACHUALTTY GOOD? HUOKOTTELIJA POIKA KUVASSA... EI PALJOA HUOKOTELLA BIISEISSÄ... USKOMATONTA.. RAKASTAN LEMMIKKIELÄIN KAUPPA POIKIA!! synth pop toimiii meediumina hieman.. heh.. mietytymmälle musiikille
Pure proud pop.
Actually waited until Wednesday to listen to this. Was only familiar with Pet Shop Boys through West Side Girls and Always on My Mind. This is a really good 80's pop record. Favorites include What Have I Done to Deserve This?, Shopping, It's a Sin, Heart and King's Cross.
8/10 FT: Rent
It was okay!
James Murphy got it honest.
i listen to half of this, I enjoyed it but it lost my attention mid way through, i dont think that was the albums fault though
I like this album a lot more than i expected to. A lot of fun. Would reccomend especially to anyone enjoying the 80s vibes of 2020 pop
An album I wish I would have listened to more in the 80s.
Este disco me pareció interesante porque yo hubiera pensado más en Depeche Mode como representante para este estilo de música (rock-pop electrónico ochentero), pero creo entender por qué propusieron este disco: por las letras. Es interesante cómo van de temas tan "vanales" como en Hit Music hasta temas tan filosóficos como "It's a Sin".
Great 80s Electronica
I was raised on Pet Shop Boys, so this album is nothing new to me. I used to hate being woken up with this blasting at 9am on a Sunday, but listening this willingly is much more enjoyable.
Fun 80's album, easy listen with a chill vibe
Pop clásico fácil de consumir muy bien producido. Canciones cuidadas y muy bien manejadas. La sorpresa viene con las letras. Algunas son simples y sin mucha profundidad, otras son más reveladoras y cínicas, o de crítica como Shopping. Gran descubrimiento, lo disfruté montones. Songs: It's a sin, Rent, Heart
Bra album med riktiga klassiker :)
Never really considered myself to be a huge fan of The Pet Shop Boys, but really enjoyed listening to this album.
Been a Pet Shop Boys greatest hits guy for years, first time I can remember listening to an album in full. Great stuff which got us dancing post dinner, and It’s a Sin is a full on classique
Ennakkoasenne oli, että tämä olisi nyhjöttävää homorummutusta, mutta olikin paljon menevämpää ja mukaansa tempaavampaa, ainakin levyn eka puolisko. Ekat viisi biisiä sai jalan hytkymään rytmissä, mutta sitten tuli vähän sellainen suvantovaihe, loppua kohden vähän tasaantui. Alun perusteella mietin jo että pitääkö antaa vitonen, mutta loppuarvosanaksi ansaittu nelkkukelkku.
They don’t make pop music like this anymore. Top stuff. One More Chance is a great opener
There was some recent Spackers discussion as to whether any 1980s electro bands were more than singles bands. The answer is emphatically yes. The answer is Pet Shop Boys.
I had the album before this one, and loved it. By the time this one came around I was a little bit over the band. There are a couple of excellent tracks here, namely It's A Sin and Heart, but also a lot of filler. No matter the quality though, it's a surefire nostalgia machine transporting me straight back to 87.
Oh the memories! Love it
I feel like in 2010 + we have so many bands like that ! Obviously there is a huge gap in terms of production technology but some songs for me sounds so much like so many bands that got huge "recently". I do feel like they are an influence for the VST bands. Sounds upbeat but not just "happy", I like the sound choices and production a lot. I like the vibe and will give 4 stars !
Pet Shop Boys - an easy four for me - smart pop - great lyrics, Chris Lowe is a legend and it contains four genuine classic tracks - Rent, Heart , It’s A Sin and What have I done to deserve this . Real snapshot of 80s Britain ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Stone cold electo pop classic👌🙌
Actually really good
Some great tunes. "It's a Sin" and "What have done to deserve this" which I had already heard were particularly good surprise track "I want to wake up" my fave.
the other pet shop boys album has the better, well known songs!
Really enjoyed this. Only heard 'It's a sin' before which is bonafide hit record. The opening 2 tracks are great and set the tone for the rest of the album. Unfortunately, the quality could not be maintained and there are some simple lyrics. Lots of references to money which I didn't understand.
The first half sets out its postmodern aspirations particularly in shopping, rent and hit music, where the joke is on the listener. The second half moves into more sincere territory with the powerful 'it's a sin', the atmospheric 'it couldn't happen here' (Co written by ennio morricone), and perhaps my favourite track on first listen: 'I want to take up'. 'Kings cross' is a noice evocative finishing track. Brilliant album and one I will revisit.
Very 80s synth similar to New Order of the same era. Great pop. Always liked Kings Cross, shopping and the singles.
Favourite Song: Rent
Всегда путал этих бойзов, Бисти, Пэт Шоп, ещё там Бич какой-нить будет. Ну, без "The" в начале, и на том спасибо, собсна. И вообще из всех бойзов мой фаворит "Бойчик" в исполнении Френдзоны. Так, чё там по альбому. Крякалка во вступительном треке маленько отвратила от него вовсе. Но всё же на репите гонял и таки разглядел в нём годноту. В Rent, Hit Music, It's A Sin, Heart и разглядывать не надо, хорошо на ухо ложатся, можно напевать. Да и в целом более ничего одиозного не встречается. Да, инструментал порой слишком минималистичный. Но доминантой служат вокальные партии, которые вполне годные. В общем, по итогу пропёрся, мб даже возвращусь когда.
Neat 80s synth pop album. "It's A Sin" is a bop.