With 2009′s Brian Higgins/Xenomania produced Yes already having been met with mixed emotions, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have returned to the fold with the mellow, Andrew Dawson produced, Elysium. Eleven studio albums in and the Pet Shop Boys seem all but ready to hang up their dancing shoes. With Dawson best known for his cutting-edge work with rapper Kanye West, what can he bring to the table when working with the Pet Shop Boys who are usually ahead of the game?
Elysium makes no play for the immediate. Tennant and Lowe are not wanting to relive the heady days of their early days. Elysium makes no attempt to recreate the euphoria of Please or addictive inclines of Bilingual, nor does it attempt to recreate current trends or incorporate them into their signature sound. Pet Shop Boys are not Madonna, they don’t seek global adoration for their youthful ways. Seemingly, they have instead released an album that reflects their current state of play, one that veers on the introspective and reflective, yet draws the listener in regardless.
With the aforementioned ‘Your Early Stuff’ proving that the Pet Shop Boys have lost none of their perfect pop bite, and lyrical capability, Elysium
For all its positives, Elysium is far from a perfect score. The irritatingly repetitive ‘Face Like That’ is so mind-numbingly boring that it wouldn’t even pass as a pastiche of poor 90s pop. The forward thinking ‘Memory Of The Future’ is ironically retrospective in its composition. While this is probably a conscious decision by Lowe and Tennant, the potential euphoric state is never fully induced by the track.
Though Elysium might be a reworking of the Pet Shop Boys formula, none of the vital ingredients are missing from the mix.