Is it really 22 years since the Pet Shop Boys released “West End Girls”? Wow. Anyway, I’ve just been reading an interesting interview with Neil Tennant about their new album Fundamental. I just picked up an imported copy (made in Argentina), and it’s both great music and politically provocative. The title reflects the theme of the album: the rise of religious fundamentalism.
“Iâ€™m against fundamentalism of any sort; I think we all are, arenâ€™t we? We donâ€™t want to go back to the seventh century, thank you. I think we take religion too seriously,” Neil explains.
“As a society, here in the UK, we donâ€™t really respect our state religion as it is, whether itâ€™s the Church Of England or Christianity, sure we pay a bit of lip service, for example, we might like the music and the incense and all the rest of it, but we can laugh at it nowadays and we can mock it pretty much with no threat,” he continues.
“So I resent the fact that we are meant to take other religions so seriously and I think we have a right to mock other religions but that unfortunately is a dangerous thing to say nowadays, though it shouldnâ€™t be.”
Not unexpectedly, the flash-point is the intersection of politics, religion, and sexuality.
“â€˜Fundamentalâ€™ is deliberately provocative. The album is dedicated to those two Iranian teenagers who were hung recently for being homosexual.”
And you’ve got to fight for what you believe in. It’s easy to get complacent, to assume that things will work out over time:
“[…] I find the whole gay issue a bore really, Iâ€™ve always said it is a political issue. The whole idea of gays was created in the 1970s as a political reaction against oppression and as the oppression fades away, so the idea of â€˜gayâ€™ will fade away and we will lose our obsession with someoneâ€™s sexuality[…]
Then suddenly religion comes along and you suddenly realize, I think we all have to realize, that liberal rights, dear old dreary liberal rights, have got to be continually fought for. Itâ€™s like anything else in life, you donâ€™t climb up to a plateau where the sun always shines, you are always marching on relentlessly. Nothing stands still and liberal rights, which are the easiest thing in the world to sneer at, have in fact taken a long time to create, particularly in the United Kingdom. We really have to fight to make sure we keep them.”