Album Review: Pet Shop Boys

Living North: Issue 125

LISTEN UP: Pet Shop Boys - Elysium

One of the most successful duos in UK music history, Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe present their eleventh album, marking over a quarter of a century since their debut, ‘Please’. Having sold over 100 million records since, the synth-pop pair continue with their unmistakably electronic sound in ‘Elysium’. A woozy, ethereal production is the crux of the record, matching its nomenclature of a mythical Greek paradise, whilst a mix of optimistic anthems and unambiguously bitter lyrics form clear-cut peaks and troughs in the mood. Elysium’s debut single ‘Winner’ was released in July to coincide with Olympic fever, their own anthem of positivity and cheer in anticipation of a successful closing ceremony performance of 1984 hit ‘West End Girls’.

With almost saccharine lyrics, ‘Winner’ is remarkably contrasted by the cynical assertions on ‘Ego Music’, a sardonic caricature of celebrity culture, whilst the self-deprecating ‘Your Early Stuff’ is a satirical observation of Pet Shop Boys’ persistence in the music industry. The album seems age-conscious throughout: ‘Invisible’ describes the anxieties of being forgotten after years as the ‘life and soul of the party’, whilst ‘Requiem in Denim and Leopard Skin’ brims with nostalgic flashbacks of a hedonistic heyday. North Shields-born Tennant met bandmate Lowe in a hi-fi shop in London before discovering their shared love of dance music, and four number one singles, 22 top ten hits and three Ivor Novello Awards later, the pair enter the UK top ten album charts once more. With sleek production from Kanye West producer Andrew Dawson, Elysium is set to become a classic.

Out now (Parlophone)