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Elysium – Pet Shop Boys
The Pet Shop Boys have offered up a mixed bag for album number eleven, frequently flitting between the sublime and the frustrating. Having jettisoned super-producers Xenomania, who gave 2010’s Yes it’s thrilling pop sheen, Elysium is an altogether more uneven listening experience.
Elysium certainly starts well. Opener Leaving is one of the most effortlessly brilliant songs they’ve penned in years, while follow-up Invisible is a subtle, synth-led spook ballad. But lead single Winner is a limp attempt to cash in on the recent Olympic fever in their home market of the UK – one that clearly didn’t take, given its number 86 chart peak.
Elsewhere, it’s a strangely muddled collection: ‘80s-era bombastic pop (Face Like That) rubs shoulders with an acid-tongued rebuke to pop pretenders (Ego Music, more a skit that an actual song) and, bizarrely, one song that seems pulled from a West End musical (the treacly Hold On). One can’t help but feel many of these sort of experiments were, in the past, more wisely confined to Pet Shop Boys b-sides.
PSB fans, it might be worth making your own version of this album on iTunes. Just make sure your version includes the ace Winner b-side A Certain ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ – it’s a stonking pop track the duo originally intended for Kylie Minogue.