Ahead of forthcoming greatest hits album PopArt, the Pet Shop Boys have put up a streaming preview of the token unreleased track ‘Paris City Boy’. If you were expecting a return to the Desireless/Princess Stephanie francophone glories of ‘I’m not scared’ (Eighth Wonder version, pur-lease — listen to it closely and you can hear St Etienne being conceived) you’re out of luck. A better joke by far is the new b-side ‘We’re the Pet Shop Boys’ which is some kind of reductio ad absurdum of the P.S.B. M.O. : over mournful synthstabs Chris Lowe recites a litany of song titles:

Being boring
It’s alright
It’s a sin
I’m not scared
In denial
I want a dog
I want a lover
Can you forgive her?
Do I have to?
What have I? What have I?
What have I done to deserve this?

Tom’s epic PSB post on ILM seems to have established a consensus that the band’s first twenty singles remain unsurpassed in modern pop. But much as I loved the band in the 1980s, I find something a bit off-putting about their sheer consistency. They hit very early on their model of melancholy hi-NRG, acedic house, refining it with subtle variations through the years, and new single ‘Miracles’ is no great advance on anything from Please. Where the first wave of NewPopsters — Human League, ABC — had a vestigial punky romanticism, mistrusting their Top 10 acceptance to the extent of recording ‘The Lebanon’ or Beauty Stab, the PSBs were always cool classicists. And while this makes them a model of pop reliability, isn’t there something a bit unloveable about their reluctance to make a mad folly of a mistake?