June 15, 2006

PSB: Always a new day in heaven.

The 2005 movie Syriana * (trailer) tells the story of how young men become jihadists. What is it that makes a teenager turn himself in to a human bomb? The movie follows Wasim (above), a poor migrant worker from Pakistan who working in a Gulf oil field. When the boy and his father are laid off after some shady oil business dealings, Wasim drifts towards a “blue eyed” cleric in a madrassa. After some skepticism, he becomes indoctrinated into Islamic fanaticism, ending with… well, that’s where Pet Shop Boys new song “Fugitive” picks up.

You could read this song several ways, but the conventional, wisdom is that it is about a suicide bomber preparing to die. On my iPod, "Fugitive" is the first song on Fundamental. With its faux orchestral opening abruptly cut by the sound of plane overhead, it's a perfect introduction to an album that’s politics are clear, yet layered in metaphors and imagery. These are not protest songs, but they have an agenda.

Fans, in my opinion, overplay producer Richard X’s golden touch. Ultimately it’s the Boys that are the common denominator in amazing song after amazing song. This is still very much a dark PSB dance song.

The chorus, if you don’t listen to the song too closely, could be about many things: brotherhood, maybe even a gay relationship: "You are my brother / I’m gonna take me with you." It's littered with references to heaven, "the fight" and unity.

Some other thoughts on "Fugitive:"
  • At 6 minutes, the song has a nice stretched out intro, which is another reason I think it would have made a great opening track.
  • The razorish synths chopping through the mix - you can hear these really well in the second minute.
  • The farty synths that sound like a machine dying at about 3:49
Have you bought the CD yet? It is on iTunes in America now and out on disc next Tuesday. The res of the world has been playing it for weeks!

*My little side note about Syriana is that they filmed for several days on my friend's street in DC. I went down to see what was happening, but the stars had gone. They took several days to film Jeffrey Wright's character (the lawyer) going in and out of his row house, sitting on a stoop etc. Huge amounts of equipment, tents, tarps, lights, trucks, etc, it's no wonder movies cost so much to make.


J'ason D'luv said...

It makes total sense that this song would be written from the perspective of suicide bombers -- which I think is what it's probably about. My first impression of it, though, was that it was about those two Iranian teenagers who were executed for being gay. I was surprised to go onto that PSB Commentary site to find out that others got the same impression!

Paul said...

i have struggled with loving the new PSB album, but i do love reading your commentary on various songs because it gives me a new perspective on them and gets me wanting to listen to them again. And some of my favourite albums are ones i wasn't too keen on to start with but rewarded me after multiple listens...