183. Pet Shop Boys – ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’ (1999)

“Somebody said listen
Don’t you know what you’re missing?
You should be kissing him instead of dissing him like a punk
But you only tell me you love me when you’re drunk”

Taken from the album Nightlife

Also released on Pop Art: The Hits and Concrete

UK #8

I’ve raved on about the Pet Shop Boys’ lyrics countless times before and no doubt I will again, but the simple, lovelorn rhyme on ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’ makes this another song you can chuck on the “PSB classics” pile. With a little bit of the wistful memoir vibe that made ‘Being Boring’ so special, this song is not a retread but a recapturing of the glory felt in the very best Pet Shop Boys ballads.

Not lyrically complex (at least in comparison to earlier songs) but still powerful, this track is about the exasperated but silent lover, fed up with his partner’s inability to communicate, and that it only all comes out in fleeting moments of excitement or intoxication. This is a character Neil Tennant plays perfectly, and while he may not be a strong vocalist technically, everything about his performance is as compelling as it would be – possibly moreso due to his vulnerability – coming from a Leona type.

‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’ is such a great line and title – I’m sure everyone has been in a situation, be it with a lover or a friend, where true feelings seem to only ever get exposed when you’re drunk or going through a strange time. The addition of the other relationship troubles in this song make it one of my favourite mope-around songs, and in the shadow of it’s sadness I can appreciate all the wonderful work that went into making it so effective.


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