Pet Shop Boys

Elysium

Astralwerks

Sep 12, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue Bookmark and Share


On their 1986 breakthrough single "West End Girls," Pet Shop Boys sang about alienation; it was a great dance pop song about feeling lost in their own hometown. Now, 26 years later, they are revered as one of the most important acts of their generation in their own milieu. Yet new record Elysium finds them sounding once again like proverbial fish out of water, only with far less aplomb.

To give them their due, keyboardist Chris Lowe's work here remains strong. There may  be no stand-out musical line that will live long in the memory, but even more naïve melodies such as "Winner" constantly shift and change, never growing dull. Elsewhere he builds Gaga-esque walls of keys on "Face Like That," which sounds exactly like people who don't listen to Pet Shop Boys think they sound.

The problems largely lie with singer Neil Tennant, whose vocal lines often struggle to fit the songs-"Your Early Stuff" and "Ego Music" being prime examples of this. The latter is the album's nadir, with spoken-word vocals taking aim at vacuous rock stars 20 years too late, a track so staggeringly precious it must be a vague parody. Ironically this leads into the chanting of "Hold On," a song with sentiment so shallow it's eerily reminiscent of Coldplay.

Elysium is far more successful when at its most tender, as the soothing "Breathing Space" and the sweetly catchy closer "Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin" demonstrate. (www.petshopboys.co.uk)

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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