November 09, 1987 12:00 PM

The Pet Shop Boys

Think death scene from Camille. Really try to enter into the spirit. Exhausted? Okay, now you’re in the right mood for Actually. If the Pet Shop Boys, a British Euro-disco duo, were a disease, they would be consumption, as in used up. This second album? It’s the same as their first. The beat goes on, but not much else is happening. It’s a tea party for drum machines. Neil Tennant’s desultory vocals are but a short step from rapping, except they lack intonation. In fact his singing voice, even at its most emotional, is virtually indistinguishable from the speaking voice of Monty Python’s Eric Idle. The Pet Shop Boys’ best dance efforts, such as It’s a Sin, sound like dry-iced versions of Paul Jabara, the master producer of the late, unlamented disco era. The crucial difference is that the Pet Shop Boys’ style is so schizophrenic: those giddy rhythms ping away beneath a flimsy facade where little pop phrases flit around, half-heartedly serving as melodies. By the time Tennant and keyboard player Chris Lowe get to their song What Have I Done to Deserve This?, you’ll be asking yourself the same question. (EMI/Manhattan)

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