Notwithstanding the deliberately in-your-face “How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously”, written as a dig at Rock ‘n Roll’s prima donnas, the 1990 Behaviour is among the Pet Shop Boys’ most understated albums. The lyrics are introspective and the music grows on you; none of the songs have the instant-chartbuster appeal of previous PSB hits like “West End Girls” or “It’s a Sin”, but the album as a whole is lush and timeless, a classic of British pop.
It kicks off with the elegiac “Being Boring”, which touches on nostalgia, misspent youth, AIDS, and the passing of old friends (having heard this gentle song over 15 years, I think it comes to mean more as the listener gets older), and ends with the stirringly operatic “Jealousy”. In between are such treasures as the delicate ballad “Nervously” (whose lyrics meant a lot to me as a painfully shy adolescent), the atmospheric “This Must be the Place I Waited Years to Leave” and the piano-dominated “My October Symphony”. The last, believe it or not, was an inspiration for the Guns ‘n Roses hit “November Rain”, which itself is a tribute to the power of great music to transcend genres and styles (has there ever been a bigger contrast between two bands?).