Pet Shop Boys / Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012

Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012 (2017 Remastered Version)

Elysium (/iˈlɪziəm/) is the eleventh studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. Released on 5 September 2012, it is the duo’s final album with Parlophone. The album was produced during 2012 in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and Pet Shop Boys.

As well as the remastered album with original track-listing, the ‘Further listening’ album of additional material features previously unreleased demos entitled ‘Vocal’, ‘She pops’ and ‘In slow motion’, as well as PSB mixes and remixes of ‘Leaving’ and ‘Memory of the future’.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Leaving—-From the very first opening strains of this track, you knew that the boys had fully returned to form after a few forays into a bit less that traditional PSB music. Tennant delivers a vocal line that wraps right around the instrumental melody and aided by backdrop vocalists the song becomes even fuller. This is traditional…remarkable and very damn pleasant.

Invisible—-The wonderfully melancholic strains of the song wrap themselves around your head right from the opening notes. Tennant delivers line after line of alienation that is so damn relatable it is almost sad. I love the underlying hum of sadness that runs through the belly of the song…allowing you to submerse fully into the mood of the song. this is a band that seldom does wrong.

 

Winner—-Originally written and performed for the Olympics, this has long been a very favorite track from this band for me. There is a certain empowering and joyous feel to the song….the whole damn affair seems to make me happy and a bit elated. The double track sound to the vocal…and the sing song delivery from Neil gives the song this huge sound.But it is the chorus of the song that truly brings it all into focus….the joy and the happiness is contagious….all the while the low sad hum underneath of everything adds a perfect landscape of a song that should have been HUGE!!

 

Your Early Stuff—-British humor and tongue in cheek delivery is in full effect here. Tennant has a way of delivering self-effacing lyrics that still produce a magical effect. Of course, The Boys must be realizing the length of time of their career and the difference in music as opposed to now and then. this is a wonderful nod to the past and realizing the future. And in the gay world…this takes on a whole new meaning. Tennant has his pulse on human emotions.

A Face Like That—-Building and building, this becomes a stomper right out of the gate. This has the classic Lowe sound to the synth line…full of shuffling beats that are replaced by the rhythmic dance beats that fill a dance floor. Tennant…by now, knows how to phrase and deliver lines that are in tune to the music…this is a wonderful track. The effects from Lowe come at you from all directions. Neil has a vocal that is echoed and removed from the fore-front…but it is still magical.

Breathing Space—-Surprisingly introduced with an acoustic guitar sound, the song is both airy and filled with emotion. Tennant amazes me….this voice never seems to show age or abuse…it is as remarkable as the very first day. when the chorus of this song hits you….the tears threaten the back of your eyes…the emotion comes right through your speakers. Perhaps this is a tale of an aging musician……wonderfully told.

Ego Music—-Delivering a nice break in the more introspective elements of the album, this delivers a nice simple kind of song…un-complicated and delivered with a bit of fun and a nod back to the Very release with the spoken word kind of delivery. Not a favorite…but a nice break….placement is everything. The lyrics speak of the true life of famous musicians everywhere…..classic.

Hold On—-Another huge and joyous song that seems to speak to me in the saddest and most overwhelming of times. The huge choir of voices gives the song an anthemic feel….you can wrap all of your negative energy around it…press play and send it flying out of the window. This is a beautifully constructed, cheerful and empowering track.

Give It A Go—-This opens with a classic Lowe styled synth line that magically gives way to the mellow crooning from Neil. The stark piano that rides on top of the subtle synth line is a PSB magical moment. I love this…it has every element that is required with a PSB track.

Memory Of The Future—-A nice shuffling synth line…..played underneath of a classic Tennant vocal. This track seemed to garner tons of attention from fans….I mean…I like it….but it was never a pure unadulterated favorite from this release. The chorus is huge and addictive…but repetitive and without tons of substance. I like the music more than the vocal…and that is rare with this band.

Everything Means Something—-An odd intro ushers in an almost orchestrated synth feel…..with a steady bass beat in the backdrop. Tennant delivers a vocal that seems less than heartfelt and almost by rote. I never gelled with this 100%. I like the chorus and the way it opens up…it just seems a bit lackluster to me.

Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin—-A classic proper ending to a PSB release. A tongue in cheek nod to the community that buys every minuscule element of the band and a nod to Tennant. This is the gayest track I have heard since New York City Boy…I love all the references and the true understanding of the community that we live in. The chorus is a huge Gay Parade affair that makes me want to dance and proclaim myself at the top of my lungs. A magical moment.

Disc Two:

Vocal [Demo]—-For a so-called Demo, this is well constructed and delivered in classic PSB fashion. There is nothing in the least under-developed about this track. This is a joyous romp through club-land debauchery that makes me happy….allows me to dance all by myself…and fills me with an unmatched joy that only this band can bring. Brilliant!

She Pops [Demo]—-From the very first note, this is literally BRILLIANT. That low mechanical hum that drives the song underneath everything adds to the feel of the song once Tennant begins to sing. This has a nice retro feel that is so damn addictive…I can’t stop listening to it. Why this was not huge is beyond me. This has every single element that constructs a classic synth pop masterpiece.

Inside [Remastered Version]—-Right from the onset, this was a track that I could take or leave. This duo rarely ever steers me wrong…and this is NOT a bad song…but it sounds a bit uninspired and less than driven to me. Even the vocal seems a bit distant to me….not sure what the problem was here…not a favorite.

In Slow Motion [Demo]—-This has such a classic PSB sound to it…it reminds me of every great moment in this career. The lyrics are tender and real…full of emotion and a certain realness. The synth line is true to form..understated enough that they belie emotion in their very delivery. The vocal is as perfect and clear as from day one. A true classic…..

Listening [Remaster]—-Hmmmm….a slow and plodding synth delivery introduces a vocal that sounds a bit empty…until the ‘chorus’ opens up and delivers a slight dark journey through perfect pop music. The synth swells suck me in…the chorus is what makes this masterful…I don’t care for the line to line of the song…but when you get that hook….damn…you are sucked right in.

Hell [Remaster]—-Returning to full on dance mode, there is a nice jaunty feel to this song that sucks you right in from the very onset. Lowe provides enough blips and bleeps to power a space ship. Tennant relies on a slight lazy vocal that seems to fit the mode of the song in a magical way…these two know each other very well. a nice magical moment.

The Way Through The Woods [Long Version]—-Well…..this really struggles to find a place in my memory bank. there is nothing for me that stands out as incredible for me here. I was a bit disappointed…because I never heard this before…but i find it lackluster and that it tries to hard. Not a favorite at all…..sorry

I Started A Joke [Remaster]—-Whomever decided that The Boys should cover this track was a pure genius. This is a spectacular result…the emotions of the original seem to grow even stronger with this version. This is another magical PSB moment. I freakin’ love this cover….it could be huge the entire world over. Tennant delivers a vocal that is so pained and emotional…i actually cry. This is brilliant.

 

In His Imagination [Remaster]—-A huge shuffling and undeniable PSB synth line introduces this track. This is perhaps one of the most brilliant tracks I have never heard from the duo. this is sad…uplifting…emotional…joyous….full on entendres…..dance able……magical…….and wonderfully PSB. I love this track undeniably. That voice! That bass line….that magical quality…..this is wonderful.

Leaving [Believe In PSB Remix]—-Swirls of an almost Soundtrack quality introduce the track that fall away quickly to a deep house dance floor beat. This version begs you to hit the dance floor and become sweaty and trace dance with the magical synth lines….it is so easy to fall into the trance of the vocal delivery. This is magical. I love the breaks and the airy sound of the mix. Quality!

Leaving [Side By Side Mix]—-This offers a much more sonic feel to the song that is obviously designed for DJ mixing and club play….there is nothing new here…except the breaks that allow for extension…..we all have this already.

Leaving [Freedom Remix]—-This is a much. much, much better remix. The galloping beats and the synth sounds that dance from speaker to speaker are fantastic. The Lowe sound replicates an almost Moroder feel to the song that almost makes you wait for Donna to start singing. This takes a track and escalates it to a level that is historic. By far my favorite…this is magical!

Memory Of The Future [New Single Mix]—-What I really like about this remix is that it begins with the chorus in your brain….so it is already laid in there…that magical quality. Even though Tennant delivers the chorus in ‘real time’ it is already in place…..this is brilliant. I have developed a new affection for this track.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

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