Chuffin' ‘eck! How can it be 25 years already?! It only seems like five minutes since I was reminiscing about 25 years of So Hard
Back in those days the first time you heard the new Pet Shop Boys’ single (a big deal even in 1993) was on the radio. The first I heard of Can You Forgive Her? (with a question mark) was on Pete Tong’s Essential Selection on Radio One, Friday night. He played the Rollo remix. I must have been pretty thick back then because for reasons I can’t fathom now, I thought I was hearing the single mix! I liked the track, but I thought it was a bit stripped down and had a strange structure.
I didn’t get to hear the real Can You Forgive Her? until I bought the CD single, so imagine how fantastic it sounded after a few weeks of thinking the remix was the single! It was just epic. The new gold standard for orchestral hits
, far surpassing the bombast of So Hard. I’ll never forget that when we saw them live in Cardiff a few years ago, Chris played the orchestral hit that opens the song and visibly recoiled in shock at how loud it was!
The music had an intriguing metre too, almost a swing feel. Literally later revealed it was because it’s in 6/8 time rather than the usual 4/4. The Teletext review at the time called it “a beat-splattered mess”, but they were wrong. I love the melody (the piano bit in the swing version is beautiful), I love the production and I love the lyrics, which I think are some of Neil’s best ever - clever but not forced.
The sleeve design is interesting and certainly distinctive. I like the models of Neil and Chris, but I wouldn’t call it a particularly attractive sleeve because of the spikey font and I’m sure that was a deliberate decision. Obviously the overall aesthetic from this era is incredibly strong and memorable, they put a huge amount into every aspect of the Very campaign following the critical success but commercial failure of Behaviour.
Can You Forgive Her? was the perfect single to announce that the boys were back.