Review - Pet Shop Boys - Elysium
The Pet Shop Boys continue their tenure as one of the longest-standing dance acts with their eleventh album (and, as a friend pointed out to me, they also continue their streak of having one-word album titles, this time naming their disc ‘Elysium’). When I say long-standing, I mean it. Their first album came out in 1986, and ever since they have more or less been making the same music.
‘Elysium’ continues down this road with little change. This time around, the duo brought in producer Andrew Dawson, who is better known for producing, mixing, and engineering for the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Beyonce. Dawson has been changing things up recently, trying to spread his wings by working with fun., Versa Emerge (a more alternative rock band than anything), and the PSB.
Dawson’s influence is audible at times throughout the album, most notably on first single “Winner”. The track was clearly meant to capitalize on the Olympics making their way to the PSB’s hometown of London, and there probably wasn’t a better song to do so. The track was made to be played over highlight reels of people winning medals and mothers crying. All that’s missing is an over-the-top gospel choir behind the Boys as they perform. But, if we had all that then we’d just be Josh Groban, wouldn’t we?
You can hear the absolute grandeur of much of West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twsited Fantasy’ on “Winner”, and toned-down versions on other tracks. The inspirational theme continues on “Hold On”, “Give it a Go”, and “Memory of the Future”, but in much less of an in-your-face kind of way.
The best moments on ‘Elysium’ are when the Pet Shop Boys don’t think about what they are doing and just let it come naturally. The camp and fabulousness that come along with being gay men (without ever actually saying so) are apparent in “A Face Like That” and “Ego Music”.
No matter who the duo works with in terms of producers or songwriters, everything they put out carries their signature sound. That sound may be terribly outdated and not in touch with what the youth of today are listening to, but it is theirs and theirs alone. “Your Early Stuff” is a cheeky nod to what it’s like to be an aging popstar, and you’ve gotta give it to them for having the balls to talk about such a thing in an industry that values youth above all else.
Fuck the youth – the Pet Shop Boys are a classic, and ‘Elysium’ is just another fine chapter in the dance music legacy they are leaving for the next generation.
Listen to: “Winner”, “A Face Like That”, and “Your Early Stuff”