A mug of Caffe latte – up to €3. Single train fare from Laytown to Dublin – about €10. A weekend away for two in Prague (including meals, decent wine and unnecessary shopping) – about €1,000. A red brick house on Ailsbury Road – anywhere between €10m-€30m. Drinkies with the Pet Shop Boys – priceless. There are some things money can’t buy, and one of these is sipping pink champagne (“it’s what Elton would serve”) with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe in the Penthouse suite of London’s Sanderson Hotel. Tennant does most of the talking, leaving the rather more cynical Lowe twiddling his thumbs and chipping in with vague asides. Despite the disparity on display, it seems obvious that we have a fully functioning working partnership here. By their presence alone, the message is clear – you can’t have one without the other.
Civility, no small level of style, compact campness and extreme politeness are held in great stock by the ‘boys’ (each of whom bears the air of college lecturers, albeit ones partial to champers and talking about Liza Minnelli, Battleship Potemkin, and Stock, Aiken & Waterman), so talking to them in such Philip Starck-designed surroundings should come as no surprise. We’re here to chat about their forthcoming album, Fundamental, which sees PSB return to matters of crucial importance to them: social commentary, political digs, emotional turmoil. They sing about these topics in their usual direct manner – excellent, unambiguous songs and lyrics underpinned by a decidedly non-sweaty but groovy selection of beats and subtle keyboard riffs.