Pet Shop Boys

Parlophone, 2012


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


There is no doubt that Elysium is Pet Shop Boys’ most poignant record. The duo’s career has lasted over 30 years, and with both Tennant and Lowe in their fifties, this seems an appropriate record and the right age not to celebrate their glorious career, but instead to reflect upon it. So off the bat, Elysium is quite a departure from the “typical” Pet Shop Boys album. Granted, there is no “typical” Pet Shop Boys album (which is why their sound has been so fresh even after three decades), but one need not expect any dancefloor hits coming out of this disc.

There is an atmosphere of pensiveness, with motifs of loss (“Leaving,” “Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin”) and self-deprecation (“Your Early Stuff,” “Invisible”) expressed in unassuming and sparse music packages. Even the optimistic and upbeat “Hold On” sounds musically somber and devoid of any life. Similarly, the supposedly inspiring “Winner” sounds lackluster and uninspiring at best.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Tennant and Lowe have a legendary reputation of creating brilliant slow numbers that are on par with their upbeat dance music gems, like “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk” (from Nightlife), “It Always Comes As A Surprise” (from Bilingual), “To Speak Is A Sin” (from Very), and “To Face The Truth” and “Only The Wind” (from Behaviour) for instance. So an album full of similarly paced music shouldn’t be anything short of absolutely gorgeous.

But Elysium falls far short of being a gorgeous album or even a great one. Tennant’s lyrical sharpness and wit is alive and potent as ever, but musically, the men seem to have taken it a bit too easy. They seem only to be too comfortable with where they are in their life. Sure, there are phenomenal tracks like “Leaving,” “Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin,” “Everything Means Something,” and “Invisible” that make Elysium look comfortable and handsome in its own skin. But on the whole, this album is left a bit flabby. In fact, even the only purely upbeat techno cut on the album, “A Face Like That,” sounds like it has run out of steam.

The Pet Shop Boys, however, has not run out of any steam. Elysium might not be on par with the extremely high bar set by their other albums. But considering the longevity of their career, the fact that they have created a good (if not great) pop record at this juncture in their life is something that ought to make most bands envious.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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