Elysium... Living off former glories?
Review: Pet Shop Boys – Elysium
Published on September 18th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Pet Shop Boys’ eleventh studio album sounds like…well, a Pet Shop Boys album. Is that intro enough for you? Let’s just do this thing.
Opener “Invisible” is a blissed-out submergence that needn’t go on for five minutes, however inviting Neil Tennant’s understated vocals remain, and the ensuing “Winner” feels flat and uninspired where surely it’s meant to sound rousing, not least given its airing at the Olympics closing ceremony. Things do pick up from here, albeit with little in the way of surprises.
“Your Early Stuff” is fabulously witty, a self-deprecating appropriation of backhanded compliments delivered to Tennant by various taxi drivers (“You’ve been around but you don’t look too rough / And I still quite like some of your early stuff” and “Those old videos look pretty funny / What’s in it for you now? / Need the money?” to name but two), while “Ego Music” is tremendous, bursting mischievously into double time and Chris Lowe indulging in a spot of rather un-PSB-like dissonance.
The spoken word parts from an imagined egotistical musician are pulled off with typical panache (“I think that’s why people love me / It’s humbling”), but it confirms the suspicion presented by “Your Early Stuff” that Pet Shop Boys are nowadays at their best within the realms of satire; Rocksucker can’t help but feel that this side of things could be enhanced with a spot of musical pastiche here and there, but there’s little room for shape-shifting within their time-honoured keyboard/vocal set-up.
“Hold On” is good stuff, a campy musical singalong with a defiant spirit, while the hypnotically staggered beat of “Everything Means Something” effectively underpins such laments as “You said, ‘You’re overreacting’ / You’re reading too much into it / If you think this is important / Your sense of proportion has gone'”; this strong finish to the LP is consolidated by the luxurious ’70s soul strings and lovely popping bass of “Requiem in Denim and Leapordskin”, which may or may not be trying to tell us something with the line “This is our last chance for goodbye”.
Sadly, and although there’s some strong material on Elysium, the dissolution of Pet Shop Boys would no longer constitute a great loss.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!
Elysium is out now on Parlophone. For more information please visit petshopboys.co.uk