Releasing "Integral" as a single should have been such a great way to close out the Pet Shop Boys celebrated Fundamental era. The most overtly political song the Boys have ever written has been championed as a favorite ever since Popjustice published the album's first review. The combination of catchy and decidedly "up" dance music with lyrics that address the UK's adoption of mandatory identity cards creates a chilling effect demonstrating "what fascistic power sounds like, and in doing so reminds us of why it must be avoided". However, when Disco 4 generated the single release of "Integral" what the general public heard was not the amazing album version but a remixed version of the song that takes a direct route in musically interpreting the evils suggested in the lyrics. While pleasant enough as an extra track the "Immaculate" mix of the song has no business pretending to be the "single" version as it truly takes the wind out of the sails of the song leaving those who haven't the original scratching their heads and wondering what the fuss was about. What a wasted opportunity for the Boys to demonstrate why they are still relevant and creating compelling contemporary music.
That being said the video is fantastic. Actually there are several versions of the video, including some designed to be watched on youtube and on cell phones, but the main video is something special. A white card shows us the world as the song's narrator sees it, pixels containing bits of information, as we visit some of the busiest hubs of London by way of time-lapse photography. Suggesting the rapid pace at which technology and authorities can identify individuals even in massive crowds it finds a good visual representation of what privacy advocates struggle to express. The room of smiling Petheads posing with digital identities as the song proclaims "If you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear/If you've something to hide you shouldn't even be here" is particularly effective reinforcing the rapturous tone of the original that suggests people are willingly giving up the fundamental freedoms of democracy in the name of the war on terror:
: The block images that feature in the video form a type of barcode that must be in greater use in the UK than the US and can be scanned with cell phones that link you to a number of sites that address issues in the song. My research indicates the band made the images available to download as a pdf so fans can create their own videos but this probably requires a copy of Disco 4 in your disc drive and visiting http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/integral but it has never worked for me. There are only a few fan videos on youtube which might mean that I'm not alone in my confusion. Still much respect to the Boys for trying out new ideas on a song that deserves a mass audience.