My Top 20 Songs of 2012 #14: Pet Shop Boys – ‘Leaving’


The Pet Shop Boys’ latest album, which featured in my ‘Best Albums of 2012’ list at number 18*, really only gained its place because of this opening track, which harks back to the sound of ‘Behaviour’ (PSB’s masterpiece).

‘Leaving’ is ostensibly about the marks that failed relationships leave, but this being a Neil Tennant lyric, it’s really about mortality and the marks that death leaves on us: “Our love is dead, but the dead they’re still alive/In memory and thoughts, and the context they provide”. Mortality was a favourite theme for the Pet Shop Boys during their purple patch between 1986 and 1993. In lesser hands, a song like this could easily sound trite, but imbued with Tennant’s subtle poignancy and warmth, it is glorious.

‘Leaving’ is probably the best Pet Shop Boys single for a decade; a masterclass that serves as a reminder that there is still a place at the top table for Messrs Tennant and Lowe.



*No “Top 10/20/100 list” should ever be regarded as definitive, even by those writing the list. I started the blog with a pre-written list of albums and made the decision to rigidly stick to this list, as otherwise my capricious nature would take over and I would end up constantly editing/apologising for my (bad) choices. This whole exercise is (hopefully) less about an arbitrary list and more about me explaining why I loved certain records this year. However, given the amount of albums I’ve listened to since I started this endeavor, I must say that I do regret some of my choices. There are albums that I would definitely have placed higher in my list and there are other albums (e.g. Kendrick Lamar, Lower Dens, Laurel Halo) that would probably make my lists were I to re-write them today. This all makes me even more glad that I started the blog, as I end up finding even more great albums to love.


Special thanks go to Sam Walton and Ali Tant for their recommendations – both of whom are far more knowledgeable than me when it comes to music.

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