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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Tuesday, 26 January 2010 00:00|
"Liberation," the fourth single from Pet Shop Boys' 1993 album Very, is quite the conundrum. It does not quite fit on the album sonically but fits lyrically into many of the themes that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were incorporating at the time. "Liberation" is seen as one of the many songs referencing Neil Tennant's sexuality. Previous songs such as "It's a Sin" had hinted at it, but it was not until the release of Very that he went public with his sexuality. As any good fan of the Pet Shop Boys knows, however, it is common, if not absolutely required, that their songs have more than one meaning. This one is no different. On the surface it would seem to be about liberation and freedom, but it could also be a very strong statement about one's sexuality. Too bad George Michael did it first with 1990's "Freedom." But while Michael may have done it first, the Pet Shop Boys have perhaps written a less in-your-face version of the same theme.
When put into context of not only previous songs by the Pet Shop Boys but most specifically the Very album, Tennant's musical statements regarding his sexuality become very apparent. From "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" and "A Different Point of View" to "Liberation" and their cover of the Village People's camp classic hit "Go West," it is no wonder that some consider Very the most loud and proud album by the duo.
There is another side to this song as well: one in which an individual allows himself/herself to fall in love with someone who makes him/her feel safe, thus allowing him/her to be free to love as well. A third interpretation may indicate liberation in the most general sense as well. The song may be one of the most simplistic in terms of wordplay for the band, but it is also a strong lesson in less is more.
As a song, though, it is one of the most beautiful that the Pet Shop Boys have released. Musically it sounds as though it would fit better on their previous album, Behaviour, but this song really is a diamond in the rough -- it peaked at number fourteen in the U.K. Singles Chart when released in 1994. It may not be their most popular, or even one that a fan would cite from the Pet Shop Boys canon, but I think for what it is -- a simple pop song -- "Liberation" needs and deserves a little more attention.