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Super
Super
Price: £9.00

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Subpar, 1 April 2016
This review is from: Super (Audio CD)
I have been listening to Pet Shop Boys for 30 years. Although their fame was mostly limited to their first 15 years, I have constantly listened to their albums. With the exception of the Bilingual/Nightlife era, their output has from my standpoint always been close to super. While I was initially cold towards Elysium, the album has proven to be a real grower and I thought that Electric was also a great album, albeit with 2-3 so-so tunes (Elysium also included a couple of duds).

Super unfortunately does not live up to its name. I had heard 3 songs prior to its release today (April Fools' Day). The first glimpse of the album, Inner Sanctum, is similar to Axis from the Electric album, but is a much weaker track. The Pop Kids, the second offering from Super, is an OK track but nothing more. The latest offering, Happiness, is a campy, jolly, and fun song that is like an upbeat version of Love Etc., although the latter one is (again) a much stronger song.

While I have listened to the album a few times today, this review must be viewed with a pinch of salt since some songs might grow on me (Elysium is a great example of that being possibly the case). There is one very strong song on the album. Twenty-Something is by far the strongest song on the album; a catchy tune that surely will be put in the forefront. Unfortunately, that is where anything resembling a great PSB song stops. Sad Robot World sounds at first clunky but it is a grower. The Dictator Decides is another grower, which sounds like a blend of something from their Very and Fundamental albums.

This is not to say that there are massive blunders on this album. There are simply many rather weak tunes and in some cases very repetitive, Groovy, Undertow and Into Thin Air being cases in point. Say It To Me and Burn are tunes that probably would have fitted better on one of their Disco projects rather than on an album. Pazzo is short a filler (not a good one).

While this album is mostly in the dance-vein, it lacks spark to create real fire. I saw PSB live last summer in Rome and many of their new songs received a tremendous response; I don't see many songs having the potential to lift the crowd in the same manner. The production of many of the songs is bland, with some of the songs being predictable beyond belief. One can almost guess what sound is “around the corner” in many cases. While Stuart Price did a great job on their Electric album, his production on this one seems to be lazy often at best.

Being a PSB fan, I have already bought the vinyl version of it but I doubt that I will listen a great deal to it. I still have hopes it turns into an Elysium grower but fear it will be added to the Bilingual/Nightlife dustbin. I have a hard time deciding between two and three stars, but given that this is a PSB album, which are usually above the average standards, I give it two stars, indicating that it is, in the PSB world, sub-par.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2016 8:12 AM BST


Big Music
Big Music
Price: £11.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Big Bombastic Synth Rock That Works Most/Some of the Time, 7 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Big Music (Audio CD)
Once upon a time Simple Minds were competing against U2 and Big Country in becoming the biggest band on earth. U2 obviously were the big winners. Regarding Simple Minds themselves, they were major culprits who finally lost their way in a complete manner with the 1995 release of Good News from the Next World (1991s Real Life was not bad but lacked inspiration) and alienating their fans with so-so releases for the next decade. The tide turned somewhat with their 2005 release Black & White 050505, which brought back signs of confidence and enthusiasm that had been absent for a long time. Their 2009 Graffiti Soul release was another fine album, and although both aforementioned albums were somewhat uneven, Graffiti Soul had few low points and deservedly breaking the top 10 in the UK, their first to do so since 1995.

Fast forward to 2014 and Simple Minds are back with an album after having toured extensively for the past years. I have listened to this set 7-8 times via streaming Simple Minds themselves provided to introduce the album. The title, Big Music, says it all. There is not one single track here being anything close to being a ballad or acoustic; this is a bombastic album with heavy synth and bass dominant in all songs, many songs being potential audience friendly rockers for stadium concerts (Simple Minds will tour all over Europe in 2015). In short, there are here some really great tracks but in whole the set is let down by a few clunkers. By replacing some of those clunkers with some slower tracks and maybe a bit less synth and bombastic ones, the set would have been close to perfect; but that may just not being Simple Minds today.
The first three tracks, like on their Graffiti Soul release, are fantastic. Blindfolded, Midnight Walking and Honest Town are among the best tracks Simple Minds have done. While the first two ones rely little on major choruses they easily hook themselves to the listener with excellent use of synths augmenting the fast paced tracks. Midnight Walking is especially contagious, it is simply stuck in my head. Honest Town, however, is somewhat slower but has a strong chorus with power and feeling. The next two songs, Big Music and Human, on the other hand are in no way being close to being good enough to be included on a Simple Minds album, with lots of synth going on canceling each other out in repetitive melodies; the title track still is a somewhat grower but Human is absolute filler material. The set picks up again with a re-worked version of Blood Diamonds (very similar to the original one, only slightly more layered, released on their excellent Celebrate 2013 collection) and the bombastic Let the Day Begin, which is a particularly strong track, sharing some elements of Up the Catwalk from Sparkle in the Rain. Then another clunker shows up (Concrete & Cherry Blossom) whilst Imagination is another strong synth/rock track, only to be followed by yet another clunker (Kill or Cure). The set closes with two strong tracks, Broken Glass Park (has been on their live set-list now already for a while and like Blood Diamonds a slightly re-worked version from their Celebrate release) and the most mellow track on the set (as earlier stated, it could have used 2-3 of those), Spirited Away.

All in all, there are 4-5 great songs on this set and 3-4 additional ones very good. It is let down by 4 tracks that are filler material. A change of pace every now and then would have been nice instead of those tracks. This is really big (bombastic) music. Initially I was going to give the set 3 stars but since some tracks are really good (and maybe simply because I am sentimental towards Simple Minds) I nudge the rating to 4 stars. Hope I can see them on tour next year.


Big Music
Big Music
Price: £13.56

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big Bombastic Synth Rock That Works Some/Most of the Time, 3 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Big Music (Audio CD)
Once upon a time Simple Minds were competing against U2 and Big Country in becoming the biggest band on earth. U2 obviously were the big winners. Regarding Simple Minds themselves, they were major culprits who finally lost their way in a complete manner with the 1995 release of Good News from the Next World (1991s Real Life was not bad but lacked inspiration) and alienating their fans with so-so releases for the next decade. The tide turned somewhat with their 2005 release Black & White 050505, which brought back signs of confidence and enthusiasm that had been absent for a long time. Their 2009 Graffiti Soul release was another fine album, and although both aforementioned albums were somewhat uneven, Graffiti Soul had few low points and deservedly breaking the top 10 in the UK, their first to do so since 1995.

Fast forward to 2014 and Simple Minds are back with an album after having toured extensively for the past years. I have listened to this set 7-8 times via streaming Simple Minds themselves provided to introduce the album. The title, Big Music, says it all. There is not one single track here being anything close to being a ballad or acoustic; this is a bombastic album with heavy synth and bass dominant in all songs, many songs being potential audience friendly rockers for stadium concerts (Simple Minds will tour all over Europe in 2015). In short, there are here some really great tracks but in whole the set is let down by a few clunkers. By replacing some of those clunkers with some slower tracks and maybe a bit less synth and bombastic ones, the set would have been close to perfect; but that may just not being Simple Minds today.

The first three tracks, like on their Graffiti Soul release, are fantastic. Blindfolded, Midnight Walking and Honest Town are among the best tracks Simple Minds have done. While the first two ones rely little on major choruses they easily hook themselves to the listener with excellent use of synths augmenting the fast paced tracks. Midnight Walking is especially contagious, it is simply stuck in my head. Honest Town, however, is somewhat slower but has a strong chorus with power and feeling. The next two songs, Big Music and Human, on the other hand are in no way being close to being good enough to be included on a Simple Minds album, with lots of synth going on canceling each other out in repetitive melodies; the title track still is a somewhat grower but Human is absolute filler material. The set picks up again with a re-worked version of Blood Diamonds (very similar to the original one, only slightly more layered, released on their excellent Celebrate 2013 collection) and the bombastic Let the Day Begin, which is a particularly strong track, sharing some elements of Up the Catwalk from Sparkle in the Rain. Then another clunker shows up (Concrete & Cherry Blossom) whilst Imagination is another strong synth/rock track, only to be followed by yet another clunker (Kill or Cure). The set closes with two strong tracks, Broken Glass Park (has been on their live set-list now already for a while and like Blood Diamonds a slightly re-worked version from their Celebrate release) and the most mellow track on the set (as earlier stated, it could have used 2-3 of those), Spirited Away.

All in all, there are 4-5 great songs on this set and 3-4 additional ones very good. It is let down by 4 tracks that are filler material. A change of pace every now and then would have been nice instead of those tracks. This is really big (bombastic) music. Initially I was going to give the set 3 stars but since some tracks are really good (and maybe simply because I am sentimental towards Simple Minds) I nudge the rating to 4 stars. Hope I can see them on tour next year.


Worse Things Get The Harder I Fight
Worse Things Get The Harder I Fight
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.83

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Warmer Side of Neko, 25 Sept. 2013
Listening context: This album became available to listen to via streaming approximately two weeks before official release on [...] First Listen page. I have listened to it on a daily basis during that period. I believe this is important to know since most Neko songs take a while to digest.

Neko Case is finally back after more than a four year absence since her latest release, Middle Cyclone, which dates back to March 2009, with the long titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. The Neko Case sound is very much still intact. There is, is my view, a gradual change still taking place in her emphasis. While her earlier recordings were more country oriented, her (fantastic) 2006 Fox Confessor Brings the Flood veered towards alt-country with some eccentric twists. That album nailed such a combination perfectly with some incredible tunes such as Star Witness and The Needle Has Landed (heavy Neil Young influence). Middle Cyclone was similar but something of a Fox-Lite experience, being more pop music oriented but yet warmer. It was a mixture of clear cut pop tunes like This Tornado Loves You (why it was not promoted more is still a mystery to me) and more complex ones like Prison Girls and The Next Time You Say Forever. The eccentric style from Fox had thus paved the way for a warmer and straightforward production.

The Worse... is in a sense a continuation of this process. The first glimpse of the album is Neko's voice singing When you catch life, you look like your mother.... There are some very tender songs on this album, as if Neko was being intent on opening her heart in some instances to her listeners. That being said, it is a real grower and is on par with Middle Cyclone in my opinion. That is not to say that Neko has lost her sense of adventure in production; cases in point are Afraid (resembles some Middle Cyclone songs) and the joyful closer, Ragtime. The album drifts like Middle Cyclone between slow and fast tunes. This works better on this album than Middle Cyclone, which was in my opinion the main flaw (minor one) on that album.

In whole this is a great set. The one sore exception is Nearly Midnight, Honolulu. Besides the unnecessary overuse of the F-word, the song sounds more like an experimental tunes best left for friends having a beer together rather than a tune stuck in between other great (and mostly warm) songs. It could also be slightly longer; 38 minutes of material is rather short.It is a bit tempting ducking a star because of these two aspects.

In whole, I strongly recommend this album. Those yearning for a more Fox type of album may be disappointed since it steers more towards Middle Cyclone. Those ready for added warmth from Neko, The Worse... is a treasure.


The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Price: £9.61

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Warmer Side of Neko, 2 Sept. 2013
Listening context: This album became available to listen to via streaming approximately two weeks before official release on [...] First Listen page. I have listened to it on a daily basis during that period. I believe this is important to know since most Neko songs take a while to digest.

Neko Case is finally back after more than a four year absence since her latest release, Middle Cyclone, which dates back to March 2009, with the long titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. The Neko Case sound is very much still intact. There is, is my view, a gradual change still taking place in her emphasis. While her earlier recordings were more country oriented, her (fantastic) 2006 Fox Confessor Brings the Flood veered towards alt-country with some eccentric twists. That album nailed such a combination perfectly with some incredible tunes such as Star Witness and The Needle Has Landed (heavy Neil Young influence). Middle Cyclone was similar but something of a Fox-Lite experience, being more pop music oriented but yet warmer. It was a mixture of clear cut pop tunes like This Tornado Loves You (why it was not promoted more is still a mystery to me) and more complex ones like Prison Girls and The Next Time You Say Forever. The eccentric style from Fox had thus paved the way for a warmer and straightforward production.

The Worse... is in a sense a continuation of this process. The first glimpse of the album is Neko's voice singing When you catch life, you look like your mother.... There are some very tender songs on this album, as if Neko was being intent on opening her heart in some instances to her listeners. That being said, it is a real grower and is on par with Middle Cyclone in my opinion. That is not to say that Neko has lost her sense of adventure in production, cases in point are Afraid (resembles some Middle Cyclone songs) and Ragtime. The album drifts like Middle Cyclone between slow and fast tunes. This works better on this album than Middle Cyclone, which was in my opinion the main flaw (minor one) on that album.

In whole this is a great set. The one sore exception is Nearly Midnight, Honolulu. Besides the unnecessary overuse of the F-word, the song sounds more like an experimental tunes best left for friends having some beers rather than a tune stuck in between other great (and mostly warm) songs. It could also be slightly longer; 38 minutes of material is rather short.
In whole, I strongly recommend this album. Those yearning for a more Fox type of album may be disappointed since it steers more towards Middle Cyclone. Those ready for added warmth from Neko, The Worse... is a treasure.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2013 3:56 PM BST


Celebrate: The Greatest Hits [3CD]
Celebrate: The Greatest Hits [3CD]
Offered by BestSellerRecordshop
Price: £14.13

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Simple Minds, 18 April 2013
One is rather obviously tempted to ask whether another SM compilation is needed, with a single CD og double CD collection already in hand. The single collection, Glittering Prize 81/92, may be enough for many, showcasing the main hits from their era when they were truly a force among the likes of Big Country and even U2. The double CD, The Best of SM, added some key tracks to the big hits but lacked yet a few ones. This 3CD collection (mostly) covers the whole ground, including their whole career, all the main hits and (most) of the lessor known single tracks.

The first CD covers their early era when they evolved from Roxy Music/Bowie wannabees towards becoming synth specialists. The last few tracks are taken from Sparkle in the Rain, when they dramatically changed from the synth sound to the more raw and bombastic Steve Lillywhite sound. CD two covers their period when their popularity reached a peak. CD 3 showcases songs after they lost their popularity but many of them are yet very good. Cry, Home and Stars Will Lead the Way are great songs that the casual SM fan gets on one disc with other very good tunes.

For the very casual fan, the other SM compilations will do. For those SM fans who are not ready to listen to their whole catalogue but want a taste of their music made outside of their realm of popularity, this compilation is an ideal choice.


English Electric (Deluxe)
English Electric (Deluxe)
Price: £9.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMD meets Kraftwerk - and it Works, 16 April 2013
OMD were among the biggest acts during the 80s, despite never becoming the mega-act they constantly were so very close to becoming. One reason, in my opinion, is that their singles were uneven but more importantly, their albums were without exception not solid enough. This meant that they never created the fan base needed to really hit it big, meaning that songs like Secret and If You Leave never became the smash hits in the UK (If You Leave became a solid hit in the US, but they barely sold any records there).

After a hiatus that lasted almost two decades, OMD came back a couple years ago with an album, History of Modern, which is a masterpiece. It is a mixed bag of very catchy songs and slower Kraftwerk like compositions that seems to have resurrected their career in improbable ways, both critically and commercially.

They recently followed that album with this new album, English Electric. It has already charted in the UK and on the strength of History of Modern, entered the album charts at number 12, their best album chart showing since 1991!

History of Modern (HoM) is among my most favorite albums in recent years. Despite Kraftwerk influences, it has a smooth and lush production. Also, some HoM tunes had a contemporary sound that could have easily been hits, i.e. if OMD were still a force to be reckoned with in the singles charts. English Electric (EE) sounds more retro and while HoM was a mixed bag of Kraftwerk-like songs and hit tunes, EE is very much on whole Kraftwerk influenced. It actually is at points as if those two groups had joined forces in creating this album. It certainly sound like the old OMD, which I think works on this album.

There is a loose conceptual theme on the album, regarding the future. The opening track, Please Remain Seated, informs the listener that the future (s)he had anticipated has been cancelled. This is followed with the first single of the album, the 7.33 minute long Metroland (single is a shortened version of the song). It is a rather brave choice starting the album with such a long song but it works, a very catchy tune (bouncy but yet not fast paced) that holds up well during the long period. There are three electric "jams" on the album, The Future Will Be Silent, Decimal and Atomic Ranch. These are among the highlights of EE, both using an interplay of repetitive voices and electric music with great results (the Atomic Ranch video is stunning). Dresden is probably the song that comes closest to the catchy tunes on HoM and then there are a few other very good songs.

Two songs are so-so; Helen of Troy is a carbon copy of Joan of Arc, simply not as good and Stay with Me wanders somewhat aimlessly. I am not prompted towards the remote, but these songs I can live without. The final song, Final Song, is though a great way to end the album, as The Right Side on HoM.

EE is, therefore, a solid follow-up to HoM and surprisingly maybe just as good. It lacks 1-2 additional killer tracks (like HoM part 1 or Sometimes) but EE is slightly more coherent with barely a weak spot on it. EE is (like HoM) a keeper.


Delta Machine
Delta Machine
Price: £4.48

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DM is among DM's Best, 25 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Delta Machine (Audio CD)
I have been listening to Depeche Mode ever since their single Dreaming of Me became a minor hit in 1981. Although they constantly came up with great singles, I found their albums as a whole more as a set of songs that ranged from being great to being anything but great. This began changing gradually with Black Celebration showing signs of the band creating a distinctive and cohesive sound. Despite finding Music for the Masses being rather bleak when initially released, time has proved that it had a perfect blend of a dark sonic landscape but yet very melodic tunes. The album maybe more importantly at the time was a definite starting point in the masses taking Depeche Mode more seriously as an album act. When they thus followed it up with Violator and the MTV friendly Enjoy the Silence the group had evolved into being one of the biggest groups in the world and deservedly so. That album is still among my all-time favorites.

While their less synth follow-up, Songs of Faith and Devotion, was from my standpoint an uneven project and somewhat a disappointment, I really loved Ultra, which was made in the shadow of David Gohan's drug problems and Alan Wilder leaving the band. Ultra was as if Depeche Mode had some point to prove and songs like It's No Good and Home are simply classics. After having hit such a high another let-down was in store with Exciter, a bland and unloved release. During the last decade Depeche Mode have released two albums, both in my view decent efforts, especially Playing the Angel. They were not great but still amazing considering how long the three core members have worked together. Their sales were, however, rather disappointing.

Their latest release, Delta Machine, has thus not been extremely anticipated. The lead track, Heaven, may though have increased the anticipation because it is among their strongest songs ever, hitting a balance of raw energy and still the classic Depeche Mode synth sound. I pre-ordered Delta Machine not only because it is a Depeche Mode release but have been excited about their new sound, hoping that Heaven is not a flux on the album. In the week before its release, Depeche Mode have made it available to listen on iTunes and Spotify, giving me an opportunity to listen to it several times. This is becoming rather common, adding excitement to new releases. This strategy could, however, backfire since if people's reaction and thus word of mouth is negative, some may pull back their pre-orders. There should be no such concern regarding Delta Machine.

In short, this album is among DM's best ever release; how on earth do they still make such good music after three decades together? The production is brimming with energy, hitting a perfect balance between their classic style and yet with with new sounds still entering the frame. It is rather alike the sound on Ultra but slightly more complex, not as straightforward, and overall a more lush atmosphere despite having raw elements.

This is evident in the opening track, Welcome to My World, a slow stylish track that moves assuredly but yet has many instruments (and vocals) that work perfectly together. The next track, Angel, is not unlike Heaven, rather slow beat count wise but brimming with energy; which leads to Heaven itself, one of their best tracks. The first possibly radio friendly track follows, the excellent Secret to the End, which is rocks in DM style and is practically impossible to get out of ones head. My Little Universe follows, a track that could easily have been on their previous two releases and would definitely had been one of the highlights of those releases. Slow follows, a rather bluesy track, not one of the strongest tracks on DM but yet among their stronger ones in their career. It is a grower. Broken and The Child Inside come next; these are the weakest tracks on DM, sort of come and go without an impact. Soft Touch / Raw Nerve gets things moving again, as the title indicates a rather raw and energetic track. Should Be Higher comes next; another radio friendly track with a fantastic chorus. Alone is very moody while Sooth My Soul is the opposite, both good tracks but not yet among the highlights, which includes the final song, Goodbye. The guitar in the song reminds me somewhat of Freestate, among my favorites of Ultra. Goodbye may, however, be even better, a slow track and probably the best singing of the whole album; what a way to finish it.
Of the 13 songs on DM, there are in my opinion thus two so-so tracks, with the rest ranging evenly from being good to fantastic.

Below is a list of my favorite Depeche Mode albums. Time may obviously change my opinion in either direction regarding Delta Machine but most often albums tend to grow on people. Ultra may gain the edge after a while; I have difficulties choosing between those two for second spot. Those who beg to differ on what constitutes great Depeche Mode albums probably may have different ideas than I do regarding Delta Machine. I may sound like a commercial, but those in a similar DM wavelength as I am should absolutely not let Delta Machine pass them by.

1. Violator
2. Delta Machine
3. Ultra
4. Music For the Masses
5. Playing the Angel
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2013 6:07 PM GMT


Mobile-Bits4u SONY XPERIA TIPO ST21i Silver Premium Quality In Ear Buds Stereo Hands-Free Headphones Headset EarPhone With Built In Highly Sensitive Microphone Mic And ON-OFF Button
Mobile-Bits4u SONY XPERIA TIPO ST21i Silver Premium Quality In Ear Buds Stereo Hands-Free Headphones Headset EarPhone With Built In Highly Sensitive Microphone Mic And ON-OFF Button
Offered by ONX3
Price: £2.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Not compatible, 7 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a cheap headphone and I was, therefore, not expecting high quality (it isn't). It is, however, advertized as being compatible to Sony Xperia. The plug does not fit any better than other plugs. Seller sent item, however, ultra-fast.


Elysium
Elysium
Price: £16.87

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Weak PSB Release - But a Grower, 10 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
Pet Shop Boys have been an integral part of my life as an adult. Although they have not reached the heights of the early part of their career for some time, they have remained close enough to keep my attention. Release and Yes were for example among my favorite albums during the last decade.

I really wanted this album to be great, with the PSB gaining a mini resurgence with their very pop oriented 2009 Yes that saw them in better form than one should expect from artists having been in the field for 25 years. Also, it is rumored that this might be their final album. Unfortunately, Elysium falls short of being great and is among the PSB's least interesting releases of their career. Fans have had the opportunity to listen to the album before its release on the internet via streaming on a Guardian site so I have had a few days to digest the album.

Warning signs were abundant. The track Invisible was introduced on the PSB website a few months ago. It is a slow and long meandering song it that should simply be B-side material. Then, ahead of the Olympics, the first single was released, Winner, which really is anything but that. A very predictable song, Winner just does not catch fire and is without doubt the worst lead off PSB single since Before was released almost two decades ago. The follow-up song, Leaving, was released at the end of August. This song has been widely compared to the PSB classic Being Boring, but from my standpoint, it swerves more in the direction of the non-loved Before.

Those 3 songs start the album and the 4th song, Your Early Stuff, are all thus rather un-inspiring. It isn't until song 5 that things get somewhat moving. A Face Like That sounds a bit much like something from the early PSB era, but it is a good punchy song. The following song, Breathing Space, is not bad but still rather average. It is followed by the fun song Ego Music. This track has received rather negative comments of PSB forums but I do like it, think it is somewhat clever, very PSB. Hold On is yet another bland song but then the 4 closing tracks happen to be PSB at their very best. Give It a Go is a joyful and bouncy track, yet full of warmth. Then, close to the very end, the best tracks appear. Memory of the Future is my favorite track, with fantastic strings, catchy tune and arrangements among the best in PSB's career. Everything Means Something is a close 2nd favorite of mine, a slower song that reminds of the best moments from Behavior and Release. The closing track, Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin, does not match the quality of the previous 2 tracks but is still a great track.

Adding this up, there are 2 fantastic tracks found on Elysium, 4 that range from being good to really good, leaving 6 tracks (half of the album) being well below average. At least 2-3 additional stand-out tracks are needed to lift this album from falling short. Incredibly, PSB have one in their collection but decided to leave the great A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi as a B-side on the Winner single. Elysium is, sadly, among the weaker PSB albums.

To give a sense of my views of what is high-standard Pet Shop Boys (that many will certainly disagree with) I rank below my opinion of their albums, from best to "worst".

1. Very
2. Actually
3. Release
4. Behavior
5. Yes
6. Introspective
7. Please
8. Fundamental
9. Elysium
10. Nightlife
11. Bilingual

Addition 11.9.2012 - Many reviewers have pointed out that Elysium is similar to Behavior, an album that received negative views 2 decades ago upon release but is cherished today. The implication is that those who do not adore Elysium just don't get it as with Behavior a long time ago or are simply stuck in the PSB dance camp. This is condescending; I loved Behavior from the very beginning and many slow PSB songs are among my favorites. Reality is, as others have pointed out, many of the songs and production on Elysium are simply not imaginative and well crafted songwriting wise as one normally expects from PSB.

Addition #2 26.9.2012 - An initial rather negative review deserves an update after further listening. This album benefits from repeated listening, especially the first three tracks grow as album tracks, not listened to individually (Leaving and Winner are questionable choices as singles). This is in my view thus a better album than Fundamental and Please. I am tempted rating it 4 stars, given that I at one point gave Fundamental such a grade, but it simply lacks a little excitement to deserve it (meaning that my Fundamental grade is too generous). Including I Started a Joke and A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi on the album as opposed to be left as B-sides for the Winner single would have gone a long way making this a truly worthwhile album.

Addition #3 1.4.2013 - This review is turning into a Never Ending Story. Despite being initially underwhelmed by Elysium, this album has with a few modifications been in constant rotation at my house. By adding the tracks mentioned in addition #2 into the mix at the expense of Hold On and Breathing Space, this is a very solid album. I have thus bumped the rating up to 4 stars and rate Elysium as an average PSB release, which is actually close to being anything but boring and closer to heaven.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2013 12:44 PM BST


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