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Christmas Records Day 2: Pet Shop Boys

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Tom Hocknell | 12:53 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

petshopchristmas.jpg

Pet Shop Boys - Christmas (Parlophone, released 2009)
The Christmas song, which occupies a similar place in the nation's hearts as the football single, returns in earnest this winter - but few contemporary pop artists can command the respect of the Pet Shop Boys. So, this EP demands our attention, collecting as it does selections from a triumphant year, alongside a menacingly eloquent cover of Madness' My Girl. It all works surprisingly well. It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas is elevated from fan-only release, which might have been a mistake were it not so damn jolly (despite the pithy "Families fighting beside a plastic tree"). However, the real find here is the hymn-like, All Over the World, a single-in-waiting from their last album Yes. This new version is huge, as though a request for one coach-load of orchestra was obviously misheard as three. It is OTT, but admirably restrained in camp. The EP is completed by Domino Dancing's synth line lightly underpinning an effective interpretation of Viva La Vida, which comes across as a more fun than one might expect from a Coldplay cover.

Pet Shop Boys, It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas (TV appearance, 2000)

Tomorrow... Christmas with R2-D2 and C3-P0

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