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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys-Elysium
I'm not one of those people who thinks that the Pet Shop Boys' fantastic early output is all there is to them. I find that their career has been one of the most consistently rewarding in modern pop, with plenty of winsome moments in each phase. I say this because a lot of reviews here tend to give Elysium a hard time because it "can't hold a candle to *insert preferred...
Published on 25 Dec. 2012 by BorChab

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not their best.
I've been a Johnny come lately to Pet Shop Boys. I really only started buying their albums from 'Release' which came out in 2002 and completely changed my mind about them. I'd just thought of them as a great pop singles band. Since then I've been a big fan of all their subsequent albums and many of the earlier ones. I'm not a fan of dance music but I am a huge devotee of...
Published on 12 Sept. 2012 by P. Wilkinson


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys-Elysium, 25 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
I'm not one of those people who thinks that the Pet Shop Boys' fantastic early output is all there is to them. I find that their career has been one of the most consistently rewarding in modern pop, with plenty of winsome moments in each phase. I say this because a lot of reviews here tend to give Elysium a hard time because it "can't hold a candle to *insert preferred Pet Shop Boys album here*", or something like that. While the Boys' latest offering isn't up there with what I consider to be their best work (Behaviour, Very, Fundamental), it is nevertheless a welcome addition to their catalogue, as accomplished and rewarding an album as any of the ones that preceded it, granted, of course, you're open to what it has to offer.

Neil Tennant has said that he considers Elysium "the Pet Shop Boys' most beautiful album", and indeed, there's a very luxurious, serene quality to a lot of the songs here. The arrangements are more sparse and roomy than, say, the ones on their previous record (the much more typically poppy Yes) and the songs here have much more, well, "Breathing space" so to speak. The leisurely tempo and relative absence of bright flashes of colour mean that a lot of the songs tend to lump together upon the first few listens. Indeed, the only one that stands out right off the bat is "A face like that", tense and busy not unlike their 80's work (those who like their PSB anthemic and dancey, be warned: this is the only song here paced to quicken your pulse). But, each repeated listen is rewarded as the pasty facade of the songs peels away, revealing the subtle production touches and an unexpected warmth that comes with the subdued production choices. Tennant is in fine voice throughout. His lyrics take a dip occasionally (the "Catch the bouquet/Let's tie the knot now" bit from "Give it a go" is kind of an eye-roller), but such moments are in the minority.

It's not perfect of course, not by any means. "Your early stuff" spends its' brief two-and-a-half minutes teasing the listener that it might just shape itself into something meaningful, or at least funny, but it just ends up sounding drab to these ears. Then there's "Hold on", the absolute nadir of the album as far as this reviewer is concerned, an overblown attempt at an uplifter that has all the conviction of those "Hang in there kitty" motivational posters. All is forgiven though, for these missteps are surrounded by the tranquil beauty of "Leaving" and "Invisible", the snarky, biting "Ego music" (a parody of self-obsessed celebrity that is home to some of the album's most hilarious lines), the wistful, vintage sounding "Give it a go" and the gorgeous "Memory of the future". "Requiem in denim and leopardskin" closes Elysium on a bittersweet, yet oddly celebratory note, a kind of breezy lounge/disco number that picks up its' storytelling cues from "Being boring" and takes it from there into album highlight territory.

What we have here, then, is a Pet Shop Boys album that sounds "different", not from their signature sound (assuming, of course, they have one; after all, each of their albums was "different" compared to the previous one) but rather from what's percieved (better yet, expected) as their signature sound. It's true that PSB are about the big, stomping, tongue-in-cheek pop hits. But they're also about the downtempo moments, the darker meditations on life and love, the elegant and spacey ballads (wasn't that the point with Behaviour and Release?). Elysium is a perfectly solid showcase of the softer side of one of the best contemporary pop acts, flaws and all. That it's not their "best" or "definitive" artistic statement is a moot point; it is what it is, and it's here to enjoy for anyone willing to give it a chance.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never been closer to heaven, 24 Sept. 2012
By 
Nick Green "author" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
I've been trying to think of which Pet Shop Boys albums are better than this one. Maybe Behaviour; Very, possibly; Actually, Yes (and now I'm confused...). The point is, these guys make it so difficult to choose. But for almost any other pop band around today, you could easily say that Elysium would be their masterpiece.

A group that's been around as longs as PSBs simply has to be winding down by now, trading on former glories - but Elysium sounds almost like a band that's just getting started. I say almost, because while a debut album might sound as fresh and original as this one, it could never have such a complex depth of character (and if that makes it sound like a fine wine, then, good).

I won't do a song-by-song breakdown, as I think one of the most remarkable things about this album is the way it flows together, both sonically and thematically. It's hard to say exactly how this happens, as there are no actual segues and all the songs sound very different from each other; the closest I can get to it is that many songs seem to `trigger' the next. A good example of this is `Your Early Stuff' (title speaks for itself) which kicks into `A Face Like That', a floor-shaking nod to their disco roots with a synth hook marginally smaller than The Shard. Within the songs too, the production is their smoothest ever, positively shimmering with ethereal sounds, and Neil Tennant's voice has never sounded better, or more expressive.

Even songs that I didn't like initially have won me over - `Winner' being the biggest case in point. At first hearing I assumed (as perhaps many have) it was a glib Olympics bandwagon number; but I couldn't have been more wrong. Sure, it can be about the Games if you want it to be; but suppose for a moment that it's about something else (a relationship, say) and suddenly it's far more convincingly a Pet Shop Boys song. I don't think it's about London 2012 any more than `Indefinite Leave To Remain' was about immigration... (but I will admit to getting Olympics montages in my head when I hear it). It's also telling how the song's euphoria carries more than a dash of melancholy, too.

My favourite song? It keeps changing, but the moment it's `Give It A Go'. An upbeat, lighthearted, almost humorous number, which for some strange reason makes me cry. That pretty much sums up what makes Elysium so special. Give it a go.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not their best., 12 Sept. 2012
By 
P. Wilkinson "cleanersvenus" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
I've been a Johnny come lately to Pet Shop Boys. I really only started buying their albums from 'Release' which came out in 2002 and completely changed my mind about them. I'd just thought of them as a great pop singles band. Since then I've been a big fan of all their subsequent albums and many of the earlier ones. I'm not a fan of dance music but I am a huge devotee of perfect pop and the last decade of perfect pop has been ruled by PSB in my opinion.

I was excited about the new album but I'm slightly disappointed now I have it. It's a real hit and miss affair and while it has one of their best ever tracks in 'Invisible' it also has one of their worst in 'Give It A Go' and really 'Winner' doesn't stand repeated listening. They seem a bit short of ideas sadly.

'Yes' is the best album in my opinion if perfect pop is your bag. This album has some lovely moments and a warm sound but it'd make a better E.P. I think.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars May deserve more than one listen, 3 Nov. 2012
By 
B. Nesset "FWIW" (Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
Contrary to some suggestions here, this album may deserve more than one listen-through. You may avoid falling asleep, as I did the first time (and I'm not the only one it appears), and discover that there are quite a few melodic hooks here. But of course! The Pettos haven't lost their skill entirely, but on this album I keep asking myself: "what's the purpose?". Old themes are revisited (again), and I have generally no problem with that. Only here, I can't find any new angles to it. Rather, in "your early stuff" there's again the complaint about members of the audience who aren't updated on PSB's late stuff, and later in "Ego music" quote "it's all about you" - only I am uncertain of any self irony here. O' dear!!! Minus one star. Ego music also has Manhatten Transfer-like backing singers, which must be the worst I've heard on any PSB record. But that's me (I have every PSB record and then some, but that's all). They've had this thing about musicals for a long while now, and somehow it makes sense to walk all the way. Somewhere (pun!) they're on the edge on losing themselves AND sounding like a very poor musical number. But actually I appreciate the initiative on going over the pond (both for the musical thing, which I just assume, and otherwise), just for doing it. Plus one star for not stiffening into what worked yesterday. In principle. The result, however... After all the fine material on Yes just a few years ago, this came as a letdown.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A view from the afterlife, 10 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
In which the Pet Shop Boys produce, if not the best album of their career, then one that is certainly amongst their top three.

Elysium finds PSB in their role of the elder statesmen of pop, viewing the world from the afterlife of mainstream chart success. It's by turns regretful, nostalgic hopeful, and cutting.

Initial reactions: it seems musically disjointed. Tracks seem to clash rather than flow. Subsequent listens reveal that, actually, it's superbly sequenced. The optimism of Memory of the Future turns to the frankly sinister Everything Means Something; the withering Ego Music gives way to the Broadway tinged positivity (or is it desperation?) of Hold On. It's an album of deliberate contrasts of mood.

Temporarily at least, they've abandoned the everything including the kitchen sink direction of old. This is music that's full of space, simultaneously stripped down and lush, and with a newly discovered sense of restraint. At least some of the credit for this must go to producer Andrew Dawson. He provides what the PSB have needed for a considerable time, namely a production style that sounds modern, without overwhelming the character of the music.

Some highlights: Breathing Space is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, and emotionally devastating. Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin conjures up the ghosts of Being Boring, being both elegy and celebration at the same time. Everything Means Something could almost be hewn from the textures of Bowie's "Heroes", with it's grinding, complex timestructures. Leaving (the next single) seems almost slight initially, but then burrows its way into your brain and manages to conjure a bittersweet mixture of fond memories and loss ("Our love is dead/but the dead are still alive".)

In short, this is the sound of PSB abandoning preconceptions of what they are expected to sound like, and doing exectly what they please. They've tried this before, with mixed results ("Bilingual", "Release"), but this is the grand slam. This will probably draw the ire of those who love the Boys' music to be uptempo and dance driven, and as such it's unlikely to match the commercial success of Yes. On an artistic level, however, this is one of their finest works, and deserves a wider audience than it will probably attract.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it a go...give it a go, 9 Dec. 2012
By 
A. Wallace (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
I can see why this album divides opinion. A slower, moodier album than 'Yes' it does remind people of the gear change from 'Introspective' to 'Behaviour'.

Some are instant classics - like the closing 'Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin', others take time to burrow their way into your head, and then refuse to come out again (the chorus of 'Your Early Stuff', for example). On repeated listens, 'Leaving' and 'Memory of the Future' feel up there with their best. OK, 'Ego Music' is a little odd and discordant, but they've been having fun like this since 'Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)', and they were making the same points as far back as 'How Can You Expect to be Taken Seriously'.

Taken as a whole, you have a lush, beautiful album which rewards repeat listens. If the only PSB album you liked was 'Yes' then this is a bit of shock to the system, but if you enjoy not just their 'Early Stuff' but the B-sides and 'Behaviour' and everything in between then this will not disappoint.

So in (almost) their own words, I'm not saying you might not find something better, but why not 'Give it A Go'?
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far from Deathly, 14 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Elysium [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Yes it's a cliche, however this is more like 1990 album Behaviour: Remastered than anything else they've produced over the past thirty years; let's be honest, even for such a consistently original band there are no new ideas these days, and Pet Shop Boys have decided to do what they do best - wistful, occasionally danceable, intelligently scripted pop music. Neil and Chris freely admit that their bombastic 'sturm and drang' days are behind them; 'I'm with Stupid' is arguably the last 'kitchen sink' disco stomper they've released; instead they offer consistently elegaic, sweeping soundscapes, with Neil's fey vocal providing a suitable accompaniment.
The bonus instrumental LP here is a real treat too - tracks like 'Winner' - which I really like - 'Ego Music', and 'Everything Means Something' lend themselves perfectly to being stripped of the singing, and the whole package is a real treat from start to finish.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GIVE IT A GO, 10 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
Too long await between albums, as always and here we have it. Leaked track "Invisible" I didn't quite get (trying too hard for me, but in the context of the album fits perfectly) but it seems I'm the only one who loved "Winner" (again works better as an album track). As for "Elysium"? In my mind one of the most consistent PSB albums for years! Eminently playable from start to finish with no tracks that I wanted to skip. Stand out tracks? "Requiem in Denim & Leather"; "Give It A Go (for it's obvious Sly and the Family stone "Everyday people" and Motown influences) and the new single "Leaving" (strongest single in a while) and the best track? No question "Everything means something". It's an album of different musical tastes; you get the great Broadway show stopper ("Hold On"); classic 80's PSB ("A Face Like That"); Self Parody ("Ego Music") and a nod to New Order ("Memory of The Future") . I agree the last tracks on the album are the killers, but as there are no fillers does it really matter? This is an adult album, a late night, bottle of wine, lights dimmed vibe. Thank God Neil and Chris decided to try something away from too obvious PSB teritory. "Yes" was good but I expected more. This is great and I expected less! Disappointed though with an instrumentals album that makes this review a 4 not a 5 star. Would have loved a cd of outtakes or remixes, but you can't have everything.
I totally disagree with another comment though about the packaging. I think it's classy, beautifully presented and fits the tone of the album perfectly. Welcome back Neil and Chris and look forward to the b-sides and remixes and a tour with no bl**dy boxes!!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply beautiful, 17 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
Elysium sees Tennant and Lowe focusing on what they do best - beautiful, melodic, literate and lush downbeat music, produced to the highest degree. Utilising the production skills of L.A.-based Andrew Dawson, Elysium sees the PSBs explore various melancholic themes with ageing and death the undercurrent throughout the album. From the heavenly decadence of Leaving to the stabbing, snarling Ego Music and finishing with the nostalgic Requiem, Elysium is a work with a sense of completeness that proves once again the versatility of songwriting, arrangements and production that Tennant and Lowe exude. Elysium is a musically and lyrically more mature offering than 2009's YES, and for me, is up their with their best.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Come back home boys, 12 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Elysium (Audio CD)
I've been a PSB fan since day one and I have always found tracks on their albums which have been cool, funky and fun. Moreover, every now and again I have been taken back with the more reflective tracks which you know has been crafted with a lot of thought and love for the subject. However, Elysium just comes across as bland. I want to like it, but I get bored and go off and do something more interesting instead. Hence the title ' Come back home boys' if going to the USA produces this sort of work then come back and fortify your next album with more cool,funky and fun tracks.
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