Elysium (Pet Shop Boys album)

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Elysium
Studio album by Pet Shop Boys
Released 5 September 2012 (2012-09-05)
Recorded 2012
Capitol Studios, SoundEQ Studios
(Hollywood, California)
Live Drum Tracks Studios
(Los Angeles, California)
Record One
(Sherman Oaks, California)
Genre Synthpop
Length 51:02
Label Parlophone
Producer Andrew Dawson, Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys chronology
Yes
(2009)
Elysium
(2012)
Electric
(2013)
Singles from Elysium
  1. "Winner"
    Released: 3 July 2012 (2012-07-03)
  2. "Leaving"
    Released: 12 October 2012 (2012-10-12)
  3. "Memory of the Future"
    Released: 31 December 2012 (2012-12-31)

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.

Background and release[edit]

"When we were trying to think the title I kept saying if we were George Michael we'd call this album Deep, because he tends to give things a direct title. And it is deep in terms of the sound—got a lot of sub-bass—it's sort of deep in terms of subject matter, the way it's expressed. But I think it's the Pet Shop Boys' most beautiful album."

Neil Tennant on the album's perspective.[1]

Pet Shop Boys began writing the songs for the album during a period of five weeks in Berlin, Germany in the beginning of 2011. Most of the album was written during the Progress Live concert tour with Take That from May to July 2011. In January 2012, Pet Shop Boys went to Los Angeles to work with American producer Andrew Dawson for three months. The duo were interested in working with Dawson after seeing his name in the credits for the Kanye West albums 808s & Heartbreak (2008) and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010).[1] Chris Lowe has described Elysium as having the same feel as Behaviour (1990), but "sonically I think it's very different." Pet Shop Boys considered Happy Sad as title of the album, but came up with the title Elysium during a walk in Elysian Park in Los Angeles. Lyrically the album can be interpreted as "about being us at our stage in our life, doing what we do", according to Neil Tennant.[1]

Elysium was released in Japan on 5 September 2012, followed by Germany and most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand on 7 September; the UK, France, South America saw the release on 10 September and the United States and Canada received it on 11 September. There are two CD formats: a single CD and a special double-CD edition which includes instrumentals of each song. A double-vinyl album was released in limited quantities which also includes the instrumental versions.[2]

Album cover[edit]

The artwork was designed by Mark Farrow.[2]

Promotion[edit]

A teaser video was released in June 2012 for the track "Invisible". The short film was made by Brian Bress and the song features backing vocals by singer-songwriter James Fauntleroy II and veteran singers Oren, Maxine and Julie Waters.[3] The album's first official single is "Winner", which was released digitally on 3 July 2012,[4] and subsequently in August 2012 as a four-track CD and digital EP.[5][6] The "Winner" EP includes the non-album tracks "A Certain 'Je Ne Sais Quoi'", "The Way Through the Woods" and a cover version of Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke".[6] A second digital EP of "Winner" containing remixes by Andrew Dawson, John Dahlbäck and Niki & The Dove was released a week later.[6]

The second single, "Leaving", was released on 12 October 2012,[7] containing the non-album tracks "Hell" and "In His Imagination", a 2003 demo titled "Baby", a remix by Dusty Kid, two remixes by Andrew Dawson, and three remixes by the duo themselves.[8]

"Memory of the Future" was released as the album's third and final single on 31 December 2012. A seven-inch mix was commissioned by Stuart Price, as well as remixes from Price, Ulrich Schnauss, DJ Waldo Squash and Digital Dog. It also contains three non-album tracks "Listening", "One Night" and "Inside".[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 67/100[10]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[11]
Robert Christgau A−[12]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[13]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[14]
The Independent on Sunday 4/5 stars[15]
musicOMH 3/5 stars[16]
NME 6/10[17]
Now 4/5[18]
The Observer 3/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork Media 5.4/10[20]

Elysium has received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 67, based on 20 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[10] Simon Price of The Independent on Sunday wrote, "If Elysium has a weakness, it is the absolute absence of thumping disco-pop monsters. Once you accept that, and surrender to the tranquil beauty of Chris Lowe's synth textures, you quickly realise that Neil Tennant is on top lyrical form".[15] Robert Christgau of MSN Music quipped that although the album "may well seem too restrained", the duo are "at peace with the fate of their fame and their retirement accounts. And the understated beats suit their elysian equanimity."[12] Kevin Ritchie of Now described the album as one of the duo's "most serene and sonically consistent efforts to date", adding that the song "Hold On" "exemplifies why Elysium is one of the year's most beautiful pop albums."[18] Drowned in Sound's Jon Clark viewed the album as "a cohesive and strong effort that can stand up with some of [the duo's] best", calling it "a wise and knowing homage to the life of a pop star".[13] BBC Music's Nick Levine commented that although Elysium "isn't quite a top-drawer Pets album like 1988's Introspective or 1993's Very", it "could be Pet Shop Boys' warmest, wisest album yet."[21] Owen Myers of the NME characterised the album as "a massive foamy middle-finger to retromania, running elegantly from jangly indie to kraut jabs".[17] Allmusic editor David Jeffries referred to Elysium as "an interesting, sour, and insider-aimed dispatch from backstage, interrupted by some big moments that sound entirely commissioned."[11]

The Guardian critic Jude Rogers opined that half of the album "harks back to 1990's reflective masterpiece, Behaviour, with songs about ageing [...] and escape [...] exerting poignant pulls", but the other half "feels bitter and flippant", concluding that producer Dawson "provides a light LA gloss, but not the heavenly direction the duo deserve."[14] In a review for The Observer, Phil Mongredien cited "Your Early Stuff" and "Ego Music" as highlights, while noting that "elsewhere [the duo are] on autopilot too often for this to be anything more than just another solid Pet Shop Boys album."[19] Despite dubbing album opener "Leaving" "excellent", musicOMH's Laurence Green felt that "the rest of the album never materialises in the way you'd quite hope it would." Green continued, "[I]f Elysium is tainted by a slight tang of disappointment, it is a disappointment tempered in part by its recalling of Behaviour."[16] Under the Radar '​s Dan Lucas complimented keyboardist Lowe's work on the album, stating, "There may be no stand-out musical line that will live long in the memory, but even more naïve melodies such as 'Winner' constantly shift and change, never growing dull." However, he criticised singer Tennant, claiming his "vocal lines often struggle to fit the songs".[22] Douglas Wolk of Pitchfork Media wrote that "Tennant's mature gift as a lyricist is for sentimentality tempered by slyness, and he pulls that off a few times", but found that "[t]oo much of Elysium [...] misplaces its subtlety."[20] Andy Gill of The Independent expressed that Elysium is "bookended by two of the best songs the Pet Shop Boys have written in years ['Leaving' and 'Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin'], but flags badly in between", naming "Hold On" the worst song on the album.[23]

Commercial performance[edit]

Elysium debuted at number nine on the UK Albums Chart, selling 10,418 copies in its first week.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "Leaving"   3:50
2. "Invisible"   5:05
3. "Winner"   3:50
4. "Your Early Stuff"   2:33
5. "A Face Like That"   5:07
6. "Breathing Space"   5:10
7. "Ego Music"   3:05
8. "Hold On" (George Frideric Handel, Tennant, Lowe) 3:19
9. "Give It a Go"   3:53
10. "Memory of the Future"   4:31
11. "Everything Means Something"   4:50
12. "Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin"   5:49

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Elysium adapted from album liner notes.[29]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[30] 50
Austrian Albums Chart[31] 20
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[32] 44
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[33] 17
Croatian International Albums Chart[34] 35
Czech Albums Chart[35] 13
Danish Albums Chart[36] 15
Dutch Albums Chart[37] 28
Finnish Albums Chart[38] 21
French Albums Chart[39] 49
German Albums Chart[40] 7
Greek Albums Chart[41] 27
Irish Albums Chart[42] 23
Italian Albums Chart[43] 41
Japanese Albums Chart[44] 52
Mexican Albums Chart[45] 34
Norwegian Albums Chart[46] 30
Scottish Albums Chart[47] 15
Spanish Albums Chart[48] 10
Swedish Albums Chart[49] 12
Swiss Albums Chart[50] 13
UK Albums Chart[51] 9
US Billboard 200[52] 44
US Dance/Electronic Albums[52] 2

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format(s)
Japan[2] 5 September 2012 EMI CD, digital download
Australia[2] 7 September 2012
Austria[2] CD, LP, digital download
Germany[2]
Ireland[2] Parlophone
Switzerland[2] EMI
France[2] 10 September 2012
United Kingdom[2] Parlophone
Canada[53] 11 September 2012 EMI
United States[2] Astralwerks

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Pet Shop Boys: Elysium, track by track interview". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Elysium release dates". petshopboys.co.uk. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Invisible". petshopboys.co.uk. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Winner". petshopboys.co.uk. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Winner released". petshopboys.co.uk. 3 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Winner released in UK". petshopboys.co.uk. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Leaving Europe". petshopboys.co.uk. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
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  9. ^ "Memory of the future". petshopboys.co.uk. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
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  11. ^ a b Jeffries, David. "Elysium – Pet Shop Boys". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (11 September 2012). "Pet Shop Boys/Bob Dylan". MSN Music. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Clark, Jon (6 September 2012). "Pet Shop Boys – Elysium". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Rogers, Jude (6 September 2012). "Pet Shop Boys: Elysium – review". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Price, Simon (9 September 2012). "Album: Pet Shop Boys, Elysium (Parlophone)". The Independent on Sunday. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Green, Laurence. "Pet Shop Boys – Elysium". musicOMH. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Myers, Owen (7 September 2012). "Pet Shop Boys – 'Elysium'". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
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