Ask people what their favorite Pet Shop Boys album is, and their answers will vary--but ask people what the most important Pet Shop Boys album is, and 9 out of 10 West End girls will say Very. The snide ambiguities that churned behind prior PSB posturings were ripped away on this release, with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe finally pulling more than punches. Self-awareness is one of the major themes on Very, with "Yesterday When I Was Mad," showing the band could send up themselves as well as their friends and lovers; meanwhile, "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Type of Thing" both carries one of the Boys' best melody lines and serves as one of their most literal confessions. There's also a more threatening, foreboding tone to the record as set by the opening "Can You Forgive Her" and the closing Village People cover, "Go West." Originally an anthem leading gay men to San Francisco's promised land, the Pet Shop Boys' version is delivered from the beleaguered trenches in the war against AIDS. The results are as ominous as they are brilliant.