Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" The Single, Flops.

The Good: Great song!
The Bad: Terrible use of the medium.
The Basics: In another case of just underusing the medium, the Pet Shop Boys one-track single version of "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" flops.

When I was immersed in the music of the Pet Shop Boys, I was deeply amused that my library managed to get in the single for "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More." There's an implied "(sic)" after that title all along, as in America, anymore is one word. Anyway, it is worth noting right up front that I love this song from the Pet Shop Boys album Nightlife, however, it is an absolutely terrible use of the compact disc medium.

The one-track version of the disc features the radio edit of the song, which was truncated by almost a minute, largely losing the opening sequence to the song. The one-track was released to radio stations, intended for airplay and now stands as a collector's item more than serious listening experience for audiophiles or fans of the Pet Shop Boys. As a result, the inflated price of the disc makes it cost-probitive to get the song which is available as a digital download in its full form for $1.00. Thus, it is exceptionally easy to not recommend this album.

With only the one track occupying just under four and a half minutes, "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" may be short, but it is distinctly the work of the Pet Shop Boys. The duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe wrote the song, Tennant performs the primary vocals and Lowe plays the keyboards. The band is credited as co-producers of the song with David Morales.

"I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore" is a very standard, but very catchy Pet Shop Boys pop ballad. The synthesizers are more muted than in many of the band's other songs and while the percussion is still evident, this single also features a slower tempo to the drum machine. The result is far less a dance piece and more a synthesizer-driven mood song.

Neil Tennant's vocals stretch his talents more toward the tenor register for this single and as always, he has a smooth voice. Tennant makes every line of the song clear and heartfelt and the song sounds great. It is noticeable, though, that for such a slow song Tennant is not given any truly long notes to illustrate his lung capacity with. Still, his singing is melodic and hypnotic, which enhances the feeling of ennui in the song.

"I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More" is a pop song about giving up on relationships and despite the repetition (the title is repeated at least eight times on the single - and very slowly!) the words are poignant. And the song is painful to hear with its lines "Did you get what you want / Do you know what it is / Do you care / Is he better than me / Was it your place or his / Who was there / Did you think it was wrong / Do you find that it's worse than it was / Has it gone on too long / Do you mind that it hurts me because / You're breaking my heart." The pain of being cheated on comes through loud and clear and the lyrics are hauntingly poetic.

Unfortunately, though, there are several better ways to get the song, not the least of which is Nightlife itself. Other (not the radio-release) singles have multiple tracks and represent a far better investment for listeners than this.

For other works by the Pet Shop Boys, please check out my reviews of:
How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously? (single)
Discography: The Complete Singles
Was It Worth It? (single)
New York City Boy (single)
Pop Art: The Hits
Disco 3


For other music reviews, my index page is available with organized listings!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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  1. Hi.

    I love this song. It’s so sad but it’s one of the best of the otherwise awful “Nightlife” album.

    I especially like to hear it when I’m moody. But then again, you’re right about one-track cd’s, they shouldn’t exist.

    But you see, I’ve discovered this song by buying the standard 4-track u.k. cd single but the mixes and 2 non-album tracks (both previously unreleased) it contains were so horrible that I think you’re almost better without them !

    1. Sometimes, I think musical artists should leave well enough alone. I recall liking this song the way it was; I can't imagine remixing it!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!