At their zenith, Pet Shop Boys took a penchant for silly hat-wearing to Jupiter and beyond. Pastel bowlers, candy-striped cones, cycling helmets struck by lightning bolts: these guys redefined headgear in pop.
Listening to 'Flamboyant', though, makes it all it seem such a long time ago. A remix of a newie from their recent 'PopArt' collection, this is one single that's in distinct need of some silly hat treatment. A sombre, elegiac affair, its maudlin melody and glum resignation - damn, its sheer restraint - reeks of middle age.
And while it nicely mirrors the dourness of their early work, it does so without the requisite frisson; it's without that Thatcherite fang.
At least it's decidedly electronic - mercifully devoid of the torpid rockisms that poleaxed 'Release'. (The only track worth a damn on that sorry LP was the very Chris 'Samurai in Autumn'.)
The fact that it echoes some of the introspective moments on 'Behaviour' is of course no bad thing. But you would have imagined that the single promoting their Best Of package - a compilation celebrating one of the most esteemed careers in pop history - would have packed some degree of wallop, a hint of passion.
But, alas, no. Ever since the criminally overlooked 'Nightlife' LP, the Boys have been desperately lacking inspiration and inventiveness. They're being boring. A sharp-eyed desire is dimming. A spark is evidently required. Like I said, more silly hats.
6Anthony Smith's Score