Elysium is immaculately produced. There is not a single “Well, that doesn’t sound quite right” moment on the entire thing and producer Andrew Dawson comports himself very well.
It’s sequenced wonderfully. Every track transition feels like a pleasant surprise and it’s an album that feels like a whole. That’s something that not enough people are doing nowadays and it’s very much appreciated.
The track “Your early stuff” is a fine companion to “Yesterday, when I was mad.” Fans will understand exactly what this means when they hear it.
Every track sounds very different, in a good way. They cover a lot of bases while continuing to be Pet Shop Boys throughout. Elysium feels quite like the b-side collections Alternative and Format in that way.
There is thankfully little guitar, and when it shows up, it’s used well (“Breathing space”). Despite our initial worries, this is not a Release-style “we have to make something terribly different so let’s put out a dull adult contemporary record” sort of thing at all.
“Ego music” is a track we initially disliked (too blunt, production is showy) but we suspect it’ll be the one that we end up enjoying the most after a few more spins. Imagine “The sound of the atom splitting” and “Electricity” from Bilingual having a child that wags its finger constantly at the pop scene.
“Hold on” is a big, wet kiss to the 1970s and the Los Angeles studio sound pioneered by producers like David Axelrod. Many of the band’s fans will despise it. Those people should be distrusted and shunned like the joyless muttonheads they are.
Closer “Requieum in denim and leopardskin” is the best track on Elysium, a perhaps-deliberate silky disco throwback to an earlier sound for the duo that still manages to feel at home here with the warm orchestral sound.
This is not Pet Shop Boys’ best album, but it may well prove to be something akin to Behaviour in its longevity. There are many ambitious songs and only the rare misstep.
Disco Potential adjunct staffer Andy Khouri will absolutely hate it and there will have to be a discussion about how wrongheaded he is.
You can pre-order Elysium now directly through the Pet Shop Boys site. The limited edition (which we were not provided but have preordered) features a bonus disc of instrumentals, which is sure to be a nice thing. We’re sure all the usual digital outlets and the like will have the regular edition available.