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on September 8, 2012
It's hard not to believe that this album would face immediate scrutiny like a firing squad. While Elysium does not have the pumping beats that were present on its predecessor, Yes, Neil and Chris (along with perennial programmer/engineer Pete Gleadall and producer/musician Andrew Dawson) escaped to Los Angeles to make their first US recording. It seems as though the location has infused the whole project with a sense of hope and reflection. These ideologies are not always listed at the top of Pet Shop fan agendas (think 'dancing' and 'despair' with a bit of sex & money thrown in with humor), and while it may be shorter on the hedonistic approach, there is plenty of humor to go around.

Please keep in mind Elysium can be hard to love on the first listen. It is an album that reveals its treasures upon repeated listens in beautiful ways. Opener "Leaving" and the following "Invisible" are perfect examples of a less-is-more approach, winding wistful melodies around aquatic synths and subtle beats. It shows you don't always need everything and the kitchen sink to make a great record.

Many complaints have been levelled against lead single "Winner", but rarely have PSB recorded a song so pure and direct in positive sentiment. One could also interpret this song as being about love overcoming political obstacles, a topic close to their hearts, and a way of transforming the song into something greater than it reads on a page. Other songs here like "Breathing Space", "Hold On" (a recessionary stage number--remember these are the guys who wrote a West End musical a few years back), and "Give It A Go" also have an uplifting and spacious charm--and the vocal tracks are amazingly warm sounding.

While "Ego Music" is influenced by the celebrity culture this recording was surrounded by, "Your Early Stuff" is also tongue-in-cheek, with direct quotes from cab drivers as spoken to Neil used as lyrics. This is followed by "A Face Like That", a song which represents their 'early stuff' more than anything else. The banging rhythms and dark electro textures layered with sounds of thunder and other effects is an inspired moment, and may serve as a portal to future projects.

The final quarter of Elysium is simply fantastic, beginning with "Memory of the Future", suffused with an incredible melodic hook, yearning lyrics, and darker synths--it's probably the closest thing to a late-period ABBA track here. (It may also be my favorite song from Elysium, and could work well as a single with the right radio mix.) "Everything Means Something" has been described in reviews here as 'plodding', but I think this song has incredible motion, with its shifting beats and analog-by-way-of-digital textures, as well as some of the deepest lyrics on the record. It seems to carry a sort-of weighty Depeche Mode feel, while the tempo and thick keyboards echo the structure of DM's deep album tracks (plus I can just hear Dave Gahan singing something like this). Things wrap up with the glorious "Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin", a disco song so un-disco you don't even realize it. It would have been very easy to fall into camp territory a la "New York City Boy" with a song like this, but the arrangement shows restraint, and adds to the touching sentiment of the lyrics. (Remember, again...these guys wrote a West End musical.)

My verdict: If you come to Elysium with expectations about how Pet Shop Boys should sound, you may be disappointed, but if you come with the sense that you may hear some of the most beautifully personal songs they've ever written, then you will likely leave satisfied.
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As most of the other reviewers of this item, I am a "Very" long-time fan of the PSBs. They are without a doubt my all-time favorite group, without a close 2nd. I have every album they have made, and most singles (and B sides). After recently buying the "Winner" single (which I like "ok" but not crazy about), I found one of the B sides to be an amazingly fun, dancy, classic PSB track ("A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi"). Wow, if that is a B-side, I couldn't wait to hear the album songs!

Well, the wait is over, and after giving it is couple of listens, the jury is still out. The first listen was borderline terrible, to be perfectly honest. However, as many of you know how it goes, the 2nd and 3rd listens started showing a couple of promising tracks. But continued listens have left the majority of the tracks in the "skip" category ... I will be giving the steering wheel radio controls and thumbs a workout with this album (yes, us "old school" listeners who still prefer CDs to MP3s, ha!).

Anyway, the good:
Track 1 - Leaving - a nice introductory track with a catchy but not overwhelming beat. The only part I didn't like was the sampled "dog / keyboard voice" section, which definitely has the 80s sound but not really in a good way (I do get a smile at that part since it reminds me of Ferris Bueller playing his sampled keyboard with throwup sounds, but now I'm really digressing and showing my age!).
Track 2 - Invisible - this is your classic slower / complex / introspective style PSB track. Very "Behavior" reminiscent; it would have fit right in, and wouldn't surprise me if they had an old shelved demo that they brushed off and polished for the album.
Track 3 - Winner - an acceptable track that I have listened to enough to "learn" to like it.
Track 5 - A Face Like That - another excellent track, classic PSB stuff!
Track 12 - Requium - this one reminds me of some of their better B-side tracks (has similarities to "Between Two Islands"). I can't say it is my favorite, but for some reason it is the one that is stuck in my head before going to sleep; a nice inventive addition to the album.

OK - so that makes 5 of 12 tracks that I like. Which leaves the remaining 7 tracks as what I will call "the bad". Some may continue to grow on me, but others will just remain work that should have been left to a future B-side collection (in particlar, I like the meaning behind "Ego Music" but listening to the repetitive "yes yes yes" lyrics is, well, painful).

In comparison to past albums, I realize that this pattern of only liking a few songs is my typical reaction, and it takes time to "digest" the remaining ones. I loved the last two albums, so I would would put this one on-par with "Release" or perhaps "Bilingual" as being towards the bottom of the list. But of course those albums had some real gems, and quite frankly I am happy to keep buying PSB products as long as that keeps them coming up with new material, even if some of it is "Hit or Miss".

In summary, if you are a "true" PSB fan, I would recommend buying this album, but go into it without expecting to like most of the songs. And if you are on a budget, I would highly encourage you to pick and choose and just buy the individual songs that you like. Thank you for reading!
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on September 7, 2012
Die-hard fans will undoubetedly either love or dislike this 11th album released by one of music's greatest pop duos of all time - The Pet Shop Boys.

If you are hoping for a repeat of the catchy, uplifting and club ready tracks from their 2009 release "Yes", then listening to "Elysium" for the first time could leave you disappointed or perplexed as one reviewer noted. For those fans, however, who loved "Behaviour" with its moody mid-tempo tracks that all seemed to blend into a coherent concept album, then you are in for a treat as this is very much the direction "Elysium" takes. It is a slow burn that requires repeated listens to understand both the underlying themes / lyrics sung as well as to appreciate the minimalist approach to the instrumentation that at times strongly reminds youself of Kanye West cd "808s and Heartbreak." This is acredited to Neil and Chris having picked Kanye's producer Andrew Dawson for this project.

I was disappointed with the choice of "Winner" as the lead single (of couse the connection and timing to the Summer Olympics in London made sense) but it is one of the weaker tracks on this cd. "Leaving" which will be released in October as the second single is vintage Boys and deserves radio play and a Top 10 position. "Invisible," "A Face Like That" and "Requiem in Denim and the Leopardskin" demonstrate that even after 26 years they still have the ability to re-invent themselves and create timeless classics.

How many of today's musical artists can boast 11 studio albums, 3 greatest hits packages and 2 alternate b-side and remix albums! For this they deserve our continued love and support!

UPDATE: The Pet Shop Boys performed an exclusive live concert in Germany last week to promote the album. Watch it on youtube and then decide if this album is worth it! [...] These songs do rank among the best they've ever made.
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on September 18, 2012
The product info; Elysium Limited Edition comes in a sturdy box which includes lyric & credit booklet, two cd's one of the entire album and the second with the instrumentals of the entire album housed in cardboard sleeves.

The content: Elysium opens with "Leaving" which sets the overall atmosphere for the rest of the album. The songs and arrangements are soothing as they are sharp and incisive in lyrical content in tracks such as "Your Early Stuff" ,"Ego Music", or breathtakingly heartbreaking on tracks such as "Invisible" and "Breathing Space". There is also upbeat tracks like "Face Like That" which is vintage PSB and should please that faction of the PSB fan base.However PSB steer clear from the vintage disco electronica and gets back on track with Elysium's pastoral and down-tempo musical arrangements and themes. This album finds the PSB very introspective and meditative on subjects as aging, relevancy, pop celebrity culture,personal shortcomings and death. In other words this is a release meant more for the head than the feet. Although not as intricate and varied as "Behavior" "Elysium" has the same melancholic execution in theme and sound. The second CD of instrumentals provide "Elysium" another dimension of beauty and provides musical gravitas. I disagree with people reviewing this album as "phoned in" by PSB. This is a deliberately themed and musically arranged album to invoke another response from the listener and that response is to listen sit back and enjoy an album that is a perfect soundtrack for the change of season into Fall metaphorically and literally speaking. There have been rumors this may be the last PSB album and those rumors have been exacerbated by the the track "Requiem in Denim and Leopard Skin". I for one perish the thought! So for all complaining enjoy PSB while they are still around.
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on July 13, 2013
I've been a PSB fan since I was very young. I still remember the day I saw Opportunities on Mtv (back when it was in heavy rotation!). Elysium is my personal favourite. I did not come easy to this conclusion I thought about it a good deal as I have been a fan a long time and have all the albums to choose from, all of them different. That is the beauty of Elysium, it is a reflective album that with every listen I'm transported by the music immediately. I can play it through without skipping because each song has some riff or gem of a lyric; there is always something about the song that makes me go "Oh yes, this one, this is my favourite!". This is a lush musical landscape to wander over. The lyrics are as sharp as ever the music as vivid.

These guys aren't going to make Very or Actually over and over again. They constantly surprise. This album is a wonderful surprise indeed which I believe will be re-evaluated years from now, just as those who slagged on Behaviour, or Bilingual, changed their minds later on. I think down the road as many listeners who complain about this album mature they will see what many of us see in Elysium; a beautiful place to rest a moment before we get back out on the dance floor.
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on September 8, 2012
It amazes me how people always tend to compare a musical artist's most recent work to their last cd. They tend to believe the artist must always try to produce more of the same style --- especially if their last work was a huge hit. The Pet Shop Boys have never adapted this way of thinking and have always attempted to stretch musical boundaries at the risk of alienation. And this is a testament of their genius. "Yes" was a glorious production, to be sure. "Elysium" is simply their most beautiful work and a masterpiece unlike anything they have ever done before. Upon first listen, it might be a bit difficult to sink into especially after the glitz and glamour of "Yes." But listening to "Elysium" a few times over evokes such an emotional outpouring of sentiment and heartfelt longing that it becomes a journal of life and love, sadness and joy. It's the Pet Shop Boys most personal work. Listen to the elegant refrain in "Requiem in Denim and Leopard Skin" and one is instantly transported to a dance floor of wonderful memories forever remembered in the heart as the best times of one's life. I tear up every time I listen to it. Get the cd version which includes instrumental tracks of each song. The instrumental of "Give It A Go" is simply exquisite. One cannot just listen to "Elysium"; one has to hear it. There is a message running throughout the work, and it is a profound sentiment that we have come to be who we are through our life experiences, both good and bad, and that we will be ok. Everything will work out. And the Pet Shop Boys cannot be praised enough for bringing this comfort into our lives during these difficult times.
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on September 12, 2012
As a Pet Head, I wholeheartedly agree with Krysztoph Tennant's review. PSB tends to release albums in stark contrast to their latest albums... that's how they consistently reinvent themselves. Slower albums like these tend to be appreciated more after several listens, and mostly embraced after several years. For those expecting a dance/disco romp? I get it, I'm in the same camp and I really enjoy the faster dance tracks myself.

For that, I highly recommend their new song "A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi" on the B-side of the Winner single. It's a wonder why that song was left off of the album. But give the album a chance. The warmth, depth, and lyrical content has got me hooked and I gladly purchased the album. I'd say "Leaving" and "Face like that" and "Winner" are my personal favorites and rank up with their best tracks. PSB unites Pet Heads around the world. :) Cheers!
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on September 11, 2012
Pet Shop Boys' last album, Yes, was rather lackluster. It had some good moments, but overall it seemed a bit flat. Before that, Fundamental was pretty good yet still failed to live up to the truly great albums like Very, Behaviour, or even Release. So it was with a cautious ear that I listened to their latest offering, Elysium. I am pleased to report that this album redeems all past mistakes. PSB has crafted a truly blissful offering filled with intelligent and mature electropop.

The most striking aspect of Elysium that most people will notice is that the album isn't a four-on-the-floor dance record. It's not Nightlife. In fact, it's closer to a combination of Behaviour and Release. It's got pop ballads and mid-tempo gems, but nothing for clubs. This isn't a bad PSB seems to really nail it when they go this route. I read some of the other reviews and it seems many were disappointed because they were expecting something more upbeat. But if one listens without expectations, they will be pleasantly surprised. There isn't a single track on this album that I want to skip, which is nice as the last album was so sketchy.

The best tracks on here are definitely "Leaving", which has some really chic arrangement, "Invisible" is melodic and heartfelt, "Breathing Space" is like a more accessible version of Release's "Birthday Boy", "Ego Music" is erratic and experimental, reminiscent of something you'd hear from the French duo Air, but still works wonderfully here. In fact, starting with "Ego Music" the album delves into full concept album mode. Mixing broadway-style numbers like "Hold On" with the gloriously dark and abstract "Everything Means Something". Truly mesmerizing stuff!

This is truly the Pet Shop Boys' most beautiful and lush album to date. I truly hope the people giving it negative reviews will click to this album. It truly cannot be missed.
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on September 17, 2012
It's time to stop dancing on the club speaker, sit the f*$@!k down and chill out. This is the album. It's amazing! When I first listened to it, I was like WTF! This is different. I took it out of my car and sat down and decided to let myself discover it's intention. We are so used to the "dull, senseless dance music" that we forgot the side of PSB that is so real. It is so beautifully "chill out". Most of us (PSB fans over 35 to say the least) should experience this. I met Neil Tennant in the early 90's at "Limelight" in NYC very briefly. It was winter, he had on a trench coat he wouldn't remove, was very reserved and I was very respectful. I should have jumped his bones. He being royalty and me a commoner - I just sat silent learning from Sinead O' Connor (who I used to go to Limelight with) to never treat celebrities like royality. They love to be incognito (like her in that ridiculous wig). I wish then I expressed the sincere sensual aurosal I experienced from his all so soothing voice. This album is the epitome of everything I found so attractive about him. You can not be a PSB fan without taking the time to embrace this keen effort. I had a dinner party and played this. It fit well. Electronica has moved along. Moby put's us to sleep with his last two beautiful melodic albums and Madonna has us reaching for Viagra! PSB just wants to get us where we are. In a time with so much wonder past and with still so much to come (in a different light, on a different stage). They feel the effects of the world and all it's recent shortcomings. Sit back and just listen. Relax (like some of us did to "Dark Side of the Moon") and remember this group delivered beyond any other pop/dance group from the UK and they are trying to reach us where we are now.
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on March 30, 2013
I've got to put my two cents worth in here.
I'm not a Pethead by any means. Did like some of their stuff that I happened to hear.
However, a few nights ago I watched their show, "Pandemonium, Live at the O2" that I had on PVR.
Wow! Blew me away. The staging, the music, just everything.
So checking the discography I bought Elysium - the newest work.
Now comes the strange part.
On first listen, I really didn't like most of the songs - found them downbeat and depressing - not at all like the Pandemonium show. However, gave it a second and third listen today, and I'm not kiddding, it seemed as if the album had transformed itself into something else! Now it seems positive and deep. I loved every track (well except maybe "Everything Means Something").
Quite an experience.
I've never had an album change that radically to my ears like that.
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