Decide

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2019
Original album - (none)
Producer - Stuart Price
Subsequent albums -(none)
Other releases - Bonus track with the single "Burning the Heather "

Bearing all the hallmarks of a classic "Chris track"—including his lead vocal in the verses, albeit heavily distorted—this is the "b-side" of the single "Burning the Heather," released digitally and on seven-inch vinyl on December 13, 2019. It has the apparent distinction of not being released as a CD-single, a decision that has proven somewhat unpopular, though Chris's prominence and the song's pronounced techno-dance style will likely assuage fandom somewhat.

Neil sings the opening and subsequent refrains, "It's time—to make up your mind," but Chris takes the lead in the verses, his voice electronically distorted as is so often the case. Their message is simple and direct, while at the same time they allow wide-enough berth to allow each listener to apply his or her own specific spin to it. They pose questions with seemingly obvious answers, among them—

Do we want to fight
Or do we want to love?
Can't we just live together?

But of course the answer isn't truly obvious, as both history and the evening news so easily demonstrate. And before long the questions even become existential in nature:

Do we want to sink
Or do we want to swim?.…

Do we want to die
Or do we want to live?

Yes, the answers seem obvious, as Chris himself observes in response to that last question, "Surely we belong together." But that the Boys ask such questions nevertheless suggests that those answers may not really be as obvious as they seem. People, both individually and collectively, often make self-destructive choices. And not deciding is itself a choice: the choice of apathy and inaction, which can be the most self-destructive, or at least counter-productive, of all.

It's a hallmark of PSB songs that the lyrics often work on both an individual, personal level and on a much broader, more universal scale. "Decide" is no exception—although it should be noted that, unlike with most PSB songs, it's Chris, not Neil, who wrote its lyrics. Chris's lyrics can readily be applied to humanity in general as a plea for peace and understanding, but they also work quite effectively as one man's personal petitions to his lover in an effort to save their strained relationship. As they sing, "Fight to love, or love to fight?" The questions are intensely individual and just as intensely universal. Whichever the case, Chris provides a hopeful, uplifting moral: "It's never too late." That is, as long as we're alive and able to make choices for ourselves, it's not too late to decide for the better. At the same time, however, they sound a note of apparent despair with one final, dismaying question: "Oh, what have we done?"

Related to this subject —the different possible "scopes" of the song—an interesting exchange between the Boys about "Decide" is recorded in their fan publication Annually 2020:

"Is it not about Brexit?" Neil asks.

"Not necessarily," said Chris. "It's about the end of a relationship. But then Brexit's also about the end of a relationship."

However one prefers to interpret it, it's a magnificent track, one that seems much too good to be relegated to b-side status. But, then again, that's a common pattern with the Pet Shop Boys, isn't it? As it turns out, it was actually slated to appear on Hotspot, but was vetoed by Chris, apparently because he felt it didn't "fit" with the rest of the album.

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