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HO HO WHO: Britain’s wryest synth-poppers drop a five-song EP containing a couple of reworked originals, a remix, and covers of Madness’ “My Girl” and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”
THE BRAND-NEW DISCO BALL: Look, sometimes Christmas just can’t live up to its cultural weight. Pet Shop Boys know this, and they’re happy to unpack their seasonal disenchantment while dressing it in their signature sound: snaky synth pulses, deadpan vocals, and a pounding disco beat. In “It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas,” they sing, “It’s hardly ever snowing the way it’s meant to be/like in ‘White Christmas,’ year after year/Bing Crosby, BING CROSBY, are you listening to me?” It’s true, Christmas is never as picturesque as the holiday classics promise, but it’s also the only time of year that the Sleigher will forgive a cheesy lyrical reversal like, “It doesn’t often snow on Christmas/The way it’s meant to do/But I’ll still have a ball on Christmas/Because I’ll be with you.”
THE USED DISCO PANTS: Still, the Sleigher has his limit, and “All Over the World,” which intros with a kitschy, synthed-up take on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker march, blows clear through it. Things only get worse when what sounds like a midi flugelhorn builds to a brassy hiss. This is the Sleigher’s snowless Christmas, soundtracked by dapper robots and choreographed by Balanchine.
CHEER FACTOR: These are the Pet Shop Boys we’re talking about. Even when they’re feeling a touch of the Christmas blues, they come off as relentlessly—more like oppressively—cheery. 11/10.
LISTEN: “It Doesn’t Always Snow on Christmas”