PSB: Still Behavin’ After All These Years
by: Diego Martínez
September 12, 2012
If there’s one thing we learned about the 2012 Olympic Games, held in London, is that British music is just as essential to the body and mind as your mandatory cup of coffee and toast in the wee hours of the morning. Most of it sounds purely authentic and speaks volumes of how the Brits socially revolutionized throughout the years. That said, it made perfect sense that a group like Pet Shop Boys, dressed in conical hats and riding rickshaws, would take part in the Games’ closing ceremony performing one of their biggest hits and a true outlook at class and inner-city pressure, “West End Girls.”
Though a bit less memorable than, let’s say, the Spice Girls’ reunion, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s contribution to the Olympic spirit was nonetheless admirable, given the fact that they are the most successful duo in UK history, with over 100 million records sold since 1986. With each release, the Boys have excelled in artistry and an intricate musicianship made barely easy on stage by Lowe, all that enhanced by witty yet passionate songwriting coming from Tennant.
We’ve come to know them originally as a campy act with a faithful cult following (without them, Scissor Sisters would never happened at all!) but as time proved, they became even more aware of their own introspection as individuals and musicians, a quality evident from 1990 onwards starting with the masterpiece Behaviour. After years of rather joyful LP’s, namely 2010′s Yes, Pet Shop Boys are getting back to that reflective feeling again with their eleventh studio effort, Elysium.
It represents a certain departure from their previous work, showing off their current music flare and their acceptance as grown, experienced men. It also has a distinctive American output to it, and there’s a reason for that: the title’s inspiration came from Elysian Park, located in Los Angeles, where Tennant and Lowe recorded the album with Andrew Dawson, who produced Kanye West’s acclaimed 808s & Heartbreak. It might sound American to most ears, but listening through selections like “Leaving,” “Invisible,” “Ego Music,” “Hold On,” “Everything Means Something” and lead single “Winner,” you can tell it’s truly PSB: elegant, warm and embellished with all sorts of electronics.
At age 58 and 52 respectively, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe show no sign of slowing down their pace anytime soon, nor settling for a more demure sound in the years to come. Careless of record sales and following the current state of pop music, the Pet Shop Boys are sticking with their guns, being original all the way through and pleasing their fans with yet another exceptional and consistent album.
Elysium is released on September 11 in North America via Parlophone.