Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

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Drico One
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Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#1 Post by Drico One » Sat 26 Oct 2019, 11:48 pm

Every so often they release something that just blows you away on first listen. Think Can you forgive her?, A red letter day, Leaving, and Vocal. An Open Mind is the latest example. Sadly, for reasons best known to themselves - and I'll speculate wildly that Chris wielded the veto - this one will not be released as a single.

From the very first bar of Chris's genius synth hook, greatness enters the building. If I unwittingly heard this on the radio, I'd think some huge commercial pop behemoth - say, Abba - had just returned with a classic single. It's staggering that they have relegated this to a b-side or bonus track or whatever it is they call these things anymore. It's flagrant profligacy. Dreamland has proved itself a tremendous choice of single. It's spent about six weeks in the top 40 UK airplay chart and undoubtedly boosted their profile - handy when flogging concert tickets. It's also a really good, multi-layered track in its own right. But surely An Open Mind could have been released in January or after the new album emerges? That synth hook is radio airplay gold, isn't it? If Dreamland can get the airplay it has, then something like this would have been a really good choice as a follow up, in my view. That said, we all know that Dreamland's success is at least partly due to the clever choice of featured artist.

Still, in a world where nothing Pet Shop Boys put out now will garner much commercial radio attention, I take the view that they should release their very best stuff as singles. If the album contains more than one track better than this, it'll be a career high...

Which brings me to my completely speculative theory on why they relegated such a standout track to bonus track obscurity. The story is elegiac and nostalgic and recounts a tale from Neil's youth. It's arguably too melancholic and valedictory for radio, but wow, this new album will be something if this can be cast off like this. I'm sure Literally will eventually recount the story of why this was cut adrift of the album, but I really hope it's not some mad notion that "it didn't fit the sound of the album."

Thinking about why I have had such an emotional reaction to hearing this track for the first time, I've settled on the innocence of the synth hook - an ideal sonic motif for "an open mind." It's almost childlike in its simplicity, but nobody has a more open mind than a child. There's something quite moving about a band as experienced as this writing something as naively beautiful as An Open Mind. The production is absolutely magnificent, with Neil's soaring backing vocals spine-tingling. Stuart Price deserves huge credit for this. I think he's been a wonderfully sensitive producer for them in late career, synthesising their DNA like nobody since Stephen Hague. Someone said to me recently that Agenda "lacked magic" (not something I remotely agree with). Well, if you can't see the fairy dust sprinkled all over this then I can't help you. Pop geniuses at work.

Drico.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#2 Post by Bulldog » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 12:00 am

It's very close to The Pop Kids, just as The Pop Kids was strictly related to Vocal. Putting it out as a single would have made a strong conceptual connection between the three albums - but at the same time Generic Joe might have said "FFS, not another Pet Shop Boys song about youth and simpler times!". As a b-side the connection is obviously still there but slightly more hidden, which is good for us as fans.
Last edited by Bulldog on Sun 27 Oct 2019, 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#3 Post by Drico One » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 12:08 am

I agree. I think there's a deep sadness in some of Neil's reminiscences - a melancholia for past times and past loves - and that's one of the reasons he is such a compelling storyteller. They - or Chris - may well have felt it was all a bit passe or nostalgic when they need to present themselves as new. The Pop Kids was the apotheosis of this nostalgia, and Vocal, as you rightly say, was also essentially speaking to the same narrowing constituency.

I'll say this: we expected 2020 to be good with the new album, but 2019 has been a fantastic bonus.

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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#4 Post by Bulldog » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 12:27 am

Oh, and it also raises the profile of the future third b-sides collection, which so far hasn't been great, as it's been said here.

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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#5 Post by Spittingcat » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 1:09 am

Wow.

The only thing I don’t like is the fade… we need a longer version of this… with an ending.

Is this album going to be full of pop hooks? I hope so.

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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#6 Post by Blogo » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 2:06 am

Hi Drico, love reading your thoughts.

I haven’t posted in a while but I’m always ‘here’.
I have to say An Open Mind is just gorgeous, sounds so fresh and I loved it on first listen. As Drico said I can’t fathom as to why this was relegated as a b-side, same with In His Imagination. Really looking forward to the album.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#7 Post by ZiggyPSB » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 2:59 am

I was predicting the first single to be yet another lead single about music nostalgia like Vocal and The pop kids was, and I would have been FFS too.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#8 Post by glennjridge » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 4:52 am

Listening to the 3 new songs I dont think this song is a B-side because it doesnt fit. I am thinking how all 3 are so lush and shimmering that this is the theme for the whole album. electric and super were both upbeat but I wouldnt describe either as lush. yet these 3 tracks are. they all remind me of pretty Very style tracks along the lines of liberation. upbeat bright and beautiful. I hope the whole album is like these.
still I agree I dont get how this song was coming out of the studio monitors and they thought B-side.

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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#9 Post by drunk14 » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 8:21 am

I've read this post very carefully and now I understand the general difference between Drico and myself when it comes to praising particular PSB songs. It seems it can be reduced to this "emotional" element or rather his perception of inner beauty, purity and innocence he finds in best PSB songs. Then, it is always clearly depicted in this romantic narrative which is recaptured in the language he uses to describe these songs. It makes sense :). I think I prefer when it hurts and itches and when something serious and purely technological is going on. That's why I feel slightly embarrased listening to "A Red Letter Day" as a perfect incarnarion of banal gay song and simultaneously bow down to the ominous "Dj Culture".

I guess this is the reason why I don't feel fully comfortable with "An Open Mind". It lacks some hidden agenda, it's friendly and frank track, but.... heck, it really does sound like Coldplay :P It's hard to escape from its bouncing profile, but I expect much more if we considering some real candidates for singles.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#10 Post by Dog » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 8:39 am

My guess is that the track simply isn’t in the spirit of the rest of the album - and that equally it fit so well lyrically alongside Dreamland and No Boundaries.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#11 Post by Markpro » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 11:12 am

The boys have done things like this their entire careers, songs that you would think were certainties to be released as singles as they suited the dempgraphic at the time , like I Want A Lover & Why Don't We Live Together,Young Offender, The Way It Used To Be, Fugitive,and the countless fantastic B side's that IMHO were sometimes much better that the more prominent single they sat under,i'm just glad we have both to chew over but given the boys success who am i to say they were wrong. (The Way It Used To Be was the wrong decision though) :D
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#12 Post by Drico One » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 11:53 am

drunk14 wrote:
Sun 27 Oct 2019, 8:21 am
I've read this post very carefully and now I understand the general difference between Drico and myself when it comes to praising particular PSB songs. It seems it can be reduced to this "emotional" element or rather his perception of inner beauty, purity and innocence he finds in best PSB songs. Then, it is always clearly depicted in this romantic narrative which is recaptured in the language he uses to describe these songs. It makes sense :). I think I prefer when it hurts and itches and when something serious and purely technological is going on. That's why I feel slightly embarrased listening to "A Red Letter Day" as a perfect incarnarion of banal gay song and simultaneously bow down to the ominous "Dj Culture".

I guess this is the reason why I don't feel fully comfortable with "An Open Mind". It lacks some hidden agenda, it's friendly and frank track, but.... heck, it really does sound like Coldplay :P It's hard to escape from its bouncing profile, but I expect much more if we considering some real candidates for singles.
While it's flattering you read my off-the-cuff post "carefully" as you put it, I really don't categorise my song preferences in terms of "purity and innocence." For example, Can you forgive her?, So hard, and Rent are among my favourite PSB songs, but none of them could represent "innocence" in any serious way. I think we all have an "emotional" reaction to any song we love, but, in general, I like a combination of playfulness, wit, and subversion. Many of my favourite songs have that - but many others have something else. Having a bloody good tune, a melodiousness that takes a song onto another, yes, emotional level also helps. An open mind isn't remotely subversive or playful, but it's a hell of a tune. As much as I love Neil's nostalgic storytelling, I think Chris carries this track.

I like DJ Culture, but it doesn't compare to A red letter day in my book. Where you hear a "banal gay song", I hear a gorgeous hymn full of vulnerable humanity, a glorious uplifting melody ('for something special, somehow new someone saying I love you"), a deeply human desire to love and be loved, and an open invitation to a hairy-arsed bathhouse. Oh, ok, maybe not the last bit.

Regarding Coldplay - given that Chris Martin has gone on record saying he wanted to be a cross between Bono and Neil Tennant, then any similarity is incidental. One thing I will say for Coldplay, though, is they have mastered the art of huge dominating instrumental pop hooks. One thing that deeply irritated me about Thursday was that Chris's incredibly thrilling synth hook was drowned by his banal days of the weekend chant to absolutely deleterious effect. Talk about underselling yourself.

If anything, the've undersold his latest hooky masterpiece by couching it in a song - lovely and evocative as it is - that recounts the distant past rather than the here and now. But hey, this is a minor grumble. What a glorious twosome they are.

Drico.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#13 Post by Nickname » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 1:28 pm

Drico One wrote:
Sat 26 Oct 2019, 11:48 pm
Every so often they release something that just blows you away on first listen. Think Can you forgive her?, A red letter day, Leaving, and Vocal. An Open Mind is the latest example. Sadly, for reasons best known to themselves - and I'll speculate wildly that Chris wielded the veto - this one will not be released as a single.

From the very first bar of Chris's genius synth hook, greatness enters the building. If I unwittingly heard this on the radio, I'd think some huge commercial pop behemoth - say, Abba - had just returned with a classic single. It's staggering that they have relegated this to a b-side or bonus track or whatever it is they call these things anymore. It's flagrant profligacy. Dreamland has proved itself a tremendous choice of single. It's spent about six weeks in the top 40 UK airplay chart and undoubtedly boosted their profile - handy when flogging concert tickets. It's also a really good, multi-layered track in its own right. But surely An Open Mind could have been released in January or after the new album emerges? That synth hook is radio airplay gold, isn't it? If Dreamland can get the airplay it has, then something like this would have been a really good choice as a follow up, in my view. That said, we all know that Dreamland's success is at least partly due to the clever choice of featured artist.

Still, in a world where nothing Pet Shop Boys put out now will garner much commercial radio attention, I take the view that they should release their very best stuff as singles. If the album contains more than one track better than this, it'll be a career high...

Which brings me to my completely speculative theory on why they relegated such a standout track to bonus track obscurity. The story is elegiac and nostalgic and recounts a tale from Neil's youth. It's arguably too melancholic and valedictory for radio, but wow, this new album will be something if this can be cast off like this. I'm sure Literally will eventually recount the story of why this was cut adrift of the album, but I really hope it's not some mad notion that "it didn't fit the sound of the album."

Thinking about why I have had such an emotional reaction to hearing this track for the first time, I've settled on the innocence of the synth hook - an ideal sonic motif for "an open mind." It's almost childlike in its simplicity, but nobody has a more open mind than a child. There's something quite moving about a band as experienced as this writing something as naively beautiful as An Open Mind. The production is absolutely magnificent, with Neil's soaring backing vocals spine-tingling. Stuart Price deserves huge credit for this. I think he's been a wonderfully sensitive producer for them in late career, synthesising their DNA like nobody since Stephen Hague. Someone said to me recently that Agenda "lacked magic" (not something I remotely agree with). Well, if you can't see the fairy dust sprinkled all over this then I can't help you. Pop geniuses at work.

Drico.
Open Mind is a good song and radio friendly but the only chance for it was a double A side with Dreamland. The song is not going to be included on the album.

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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#14 Post by Drico One » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 1:44 pm

Thank you for that wise analytical insight, nickname. If only I saw the world with the clarity and perspicacity that you do.

Drico.
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Re: Keeping An Open Mind on An Open Mind

#15 Post by y3potential » Sun 27 Oct 2019, 2:17 pm

"Open Mind is a good song and radio friendly but the only chance for it was a double A side with Dreamland. The song is not going to be included on the album."
[/quote]





Wow. Thanks for informing us it won't be on the album.. I wouldn't have known otherwise.. :roll: :roll: There was me thinking it would be as well as being a b side for Dreamland... :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall:


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