Left To My Own Devices

Throw Back Thursday Feature

On 10th October 1988 the Pet Shop Boys released their third album “Introspective” a six track project, featuring extended and remixed versions of singles. All of them were epic…. But this has to be my favourite.

Left To My Own Devices

This is…. Slick. For a band that were known for their synth sounds as an opener when this just explodes out of the speakers you’re onto something special. What are you getting?

Well, it’s a full symphony orchestra. A LIVE symphony orchestra arranged and conducted by Richard Niles. There’s timpanis, trombones, French horns, strings vibraphones you just don’t know where to start when it happens… but then there’s an opera singer and she sings one simple word… 


This is a house record married up with an orchestra and it’s beautiful. 

But we aren’t at the drop yet. There’s a flourish of notes down the vibraphone into the beat drop at 0:54, it’s just the synths and the orchestra drops back, come in occasionally.. 

Then you get Neil Tennant’s inimitable voice come in and speak over the track this is not the first time he’s done this, West End Girls their first hit had this, but this is more animated. I guess because the tempo is up. Over Chris’s Lowe’s epic synth backdrop this works so well, and it suits what they call their “Imperialistic era.” But the bit that gets me is the little breakdown bit: 

“I was faced with a choice at a difficult age, 

Should I write a book or should I take to the stage.

But at the back my mind, I heard distant feet 

Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat…”

All building up to a big climactic finish… 

There is a big build up from 4:49 that George Martin would have been proud of because of the way the orchestra swells! Wow… the outro is a mashup of the lyrics, the opera singer is back, singing “I would if I could”, harps… trumpets, strings… it’s so beautiful. 

What an opener. 

Oh just to finish it off there’s a thunderstorm! 

A Trevor Horn production, this man helped define the 80s sound with his groundbreaking tracks, and credits that still cause resonance today.

Listen to the track here now.

Words by Del Osei-Owusu