Pet Shop Boys (Photo by Alasdair McLellan)

From the Pet Shop Boys to Billy Idol, there’s plenty of beats to move your feet during Pride Month


Torres (Photo by Ebru Yildiz)

A new Pet Shop Boys studio album is always cause for celebration, especially because it’s been four years since the last one was released. In the interim, PSB released the extraordinary (and aptly titled) Smash 2023 box set, easily the duo’s most complete hits compilation. On the just-released 10-song vinyl LP Nonetheless (Warner/Parlophone), Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe get us on our feet and dancing with opener “Loneliness,” “Feel,” and “Bullet for Narcissus.”

Dancing is a theme here, not only sonically, but in song titles, including the epic club track “Why am I dancing?” and the lite funk of “Dancing Star,” as well as in the slow number “A new Bohemia” (including the line, “Who dances now to their sweet old song?”).

The ’80s vibe of “New London Boy” — which asks the question, “Is everyone gay?” — is taken seriously with the inclusion of an ’80s-style rap. PSB has always had a way with a beautiful tune, including the previously named “Feel,” as well as “The Secret of Happiness” (featuring a full orchestra and harp!).

When Brett Anderson was lead vocalist of the band London Suede (the name the band Suede was called in the U.S. after members lost a lawsuit brought by lesbian trumpeter Suede, who had been using the name for years), he described himself as “a bisexual man who never had a homosexual experience.” Sounds gay, he’s in!
Interestingly, Anderson’s former London Suede bandmate Bernard Butler recorded a few albums with gay singer/songwriter David McAlmont as the duo McAlmont & Butler. Anderson’s latest music project is Paraorchestra, a marvelous collaboration with British conductor Charles Hazlewood, featuring guest artists Nadine Shah, Gwenno, Portishead’s Adrian Utley and Sons of Kemet’s Seb Rochford. Paraorchestra’s gorgeous new album Death Songbook (World Circuit/BMG), available as a double vinyl LP, reimagines songs by Echo & The Bunnymen (“The Killing Moon”), Mercury Rev (“Holes”), Japan (“Nightporter”), Black (“Wonderful Life”), DEPECHE Mode (“Enjoy The Silence”), Skeeter Davis (“The End Of The World”), Scott Walker (“My Death”) and even the London Suede (“She Still Leads Me On,” “The Next Life,” and “He’s Dead,” in stunning orchestral arrangements you never realized that the songs required.

Billy Idol (Photo by Ebru Yildiz)

These days, it seems like you can’t listen to SiriusXMU without hearing “Hand to Hand” by queer singer/songwriter Katy Kirby, from her wonderful Blue Raspberry album. If you dig that song, you owe it to yourself to explore Heart of the Artichoke (Bayonet), the layered new album from Bloomsday. Led by non-binary singer/songwriter Iris James Garrison, Bloomsday (which also includes Alex Harwood) are purveyors of glorious enby music that is as lush as it is luminous. Before you know it, you will find yourself singing along to “Virtual Hug,” “Where I End and You Begin,” “Bumper Sticker,” “Artichoke,” “Look After” and the subtle twang of “Dollar Slice.”

The only complaint is that at just over 33 minutes, the 10 songs on this breathtaking album go by much too fast.

Non-binary lesbian singer/songwriter Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott, not to be confused with the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos) has returned with What An Enormous Room (Merge), their sixth full-length album in 10 years.

Down to just Torres, co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jaffe (with additional assistance from TJ Allen), you might expect Enormous Room to sound stripped down. On the contrary, these musicians fill up the enormous room with blazing guitars, synths and other keyboards, and plenty of beats, as you can clearly hear on “Life As We Don’t Know It,” “Collect” and “Jerk Into Joy.”

The mesmerizing and unexpected piano+vocal closer “Songbird Forever” alternates between an unsettling “you and me” and “you own me” state of mind.

Billy Idol isn’t queer, but that hasn’t stopped countless gay men from fantasizing about him. And why not? Between his sharp cheekbones, pouty lips and accompanying sneer, bedroom eyes, six-pack abs and penchant for dressing (or being half-undressed) in leather, Idol amassed a considerable queer following beginning with his days in the band Generation X and continuing through his lengthy solo career.

Rebel Yell (Capitol/UME), Idol’s second solo album originally released on Chrysalis in 1983, has been reissued in an expanded double LP vinyl edition featuring eight bonus tracks, including a cover of Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” delivered in his trademark growl. Among the nine songs on the original album were some of Idol’s highest charting singles, including the title track, “Eyes Without A Face,” and “Flesh For Fantasy.”