180. Pet Shop Boys – ‘Miserablism’ (1991)

“Is is and isn’t isn’t”

Taken from the album Alternative

I’m doing terrible with the whole “best B-side ever” competition – I said in the ‘Under The Ivy’ article that unless I was forgetting something major then that was the best B-side ever. And now here I am, having forgotten that ‘Miserablism’ was still on the list. I do apologise. I’m not going to say this is the best B-side ever because I’ll probably have stuck some obscure vinyl-only Sugababes track at number one or something.

‘Miserablism’ was released as the B-side of ‘Was It Worth It?’ in late 1991, and features a simple and infectious melody, while the lyrics tell of a “new philosophy” called miserablism, where everyone is basically sad all the time. Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but bleak never sounded so warm and inviting. Better than most of their singles (although of course every one of their singles is brilliant), this song is the shining diamond of Pet Shop Boys b-sides.

Though released later, ‘Miserablism’ was recorded with Behaviour and fits in with that album perfectly. In the booklet for Alternative Neil states that the song might have been a single, and I think it definitely could have been. It may not have been a number one or even a top twenty, but it would have shown a bit of a hidden side to the duo and that ironic-or-something chant of “is is and isn’t isn’t” during the chorus is undeniably catchy. It was kept away from the ears of most listeners but if you count yourself as a fan, seek it out, you won’t regret it. And if you do regret it, you can mope around to the sounds of this song, being disappointed.


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