Maybe if this were the Boys’ last album, it would all make sense. But why they decided to take things down several notches after the breath of fresh air that was Yes, is anybody’s guess ("We tend to react to our own last album," Neil says.)
Much has been made of the fact that they recorded this album in L.A. with Kanye West’s producer. However, neither of these facts really matter sonically in the results. If anything, the record sounds recycled somehow, the Pet Shop Boys sampling their “early stuff” and then saying they never think about it.
Elysium is over literal and over earnest, with just a few life-savers (Neil Tennant still writes the best sardonic lyrics, even though two songs here are apparently just lines he heard from taxi drivers and pop stars.) But their attempts at pop balladry are downright excruciating: boring “Breathing Space”, cringe-worthy “Hold On” and trite “Give It A Go”, plus insufferable “Winner” (never thought I would have to resort to words like these when referring to their songs…)