After the release of their previous studio album, Nightlife, it was originally planned that they would release a greatest hits collection in the autumn of 2000 with the two new tracks "Positive Role Model" and "Somebody Else's Business" Whilst recording the new songs for the hits collection it was decided to produce a full studio album instead.
Release has been the least commercially successful of all Pet Shop Boys albums to date, though still managed to sell 800,000 copies worldwide. On its first release, a limited run of metallic effect embossed sleeves were available in a choice of four colours: grey, blue, pink or red. In the USA, this limited run also came with a bonus CD including remixes and new tracks.
The album marked a significant departure from previous work, being guitar and piano-driven with little evidence of synthesisers present. The emerging material was emotional and guitar-influenced. They worked with Michael Brauer (who had previously worked with artists such as Coldplay) and Johnny Marr.
The original version of the album had 15 tracks including the b-sides "Between two islands", "Searching for the face of Jesus", "Always", "I didn't get where I am today" and a piano version of "London" entitled London (Genuine Piano Mix) which later ended up on Disco 3.
The directors for all three music videos for the album's singles are photographers by trade: Wolfgang Tillmans directed "Home and dry", Bruce Weber directed "I get along" (following his previous work on the "Being boring" and "Se a vida é" videos), and Martin Parr directed "London". The Tillmans video, consisting almost entirely of footage of mice filmed at Tottenham Court Road tube station in the London Underground, is considered to have significantly undermined the commercial potential of the lead single, due to being deemed nearly unplayable by MTV and other music video channels.
Perhaps partly because of the modest commercial success of this album, and perhaps partly because of the habit of distancing themselves musically from their most recent work, Tennant and Lowe have since returned to their dance roots. One year after the release of Release, Pet Shop Boys released Disco 3 which included remixes of some of the songs from Release along with new material that they were working on at the time of writing/producing material for Release.
CD-ROM content: "Home and Dry" (Video)