Album Review: Pet Shop Boys - Elysium

5 October 2012 | 2:35 pm | Mac McNaughton

In fact, it might well be the Boys' safest album yet.

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Maturing with grace and savoir-faire seems to be the order of the day on the Pet Shop Boys' 11th studio album. Decamping to LA to record with (Kanye West producer) Andrew Dawson, Neil Tennant's sanguine vocals continue to sooth while lyrically he remains typically wry, campy and sometimes self-depreciating. Chris Lowe has mostly abandoned trying to shake booty at Mardi Gras parades, instead providing the soundtrack to cocktail-clinking spectator parties from the balcony.

To open with a break-up song (Leaving) is so Pet Shop Boys, and immediately echoes how Being Boring launched their 1990 Behaviour album. There's fun to be had trying to guess who the odious git is, caricatured on the hilarious Ego Music – perfect for a scene in Absolutely Fabulous (“I'm totally fearless, and people really get that...It's humbling”) – or the humdrum anticipation of cynical reviews in Your Early Stuff. Lowe does turn the smoke machine on briefly for the hi-nrg Face Like That but it's almost as if the boys can't handle too much dancefloor these days. Like any decent cocktail-clinkfest, the music often steps to the background and one's attentions will wander without being switched off altogether, and from that perspective, Elysium is well-monikered. It may not possess the outgoing personality of their Very album or the urbanity of Actually. In fact, it might well be the Boys' safest album yet. It fades in and out of focus like a simpatico daydream, but it's divine to still have them around.