The Pet Shop Boys’ Ego Music is totally my new jam. Nestled away at track 7 on their brand new LP Elysium, it’s an urgently-paced song using lyrics that are clearly culled from interviews with musicians who play on the cult of personality rather than stirring you musically. It’s a masterstroke to hear phrases like “there’s a real purity to my work” and “of course I’ve always had a humanitarian vision” delivered in Neil Tennant’s instantly-recognisable deadpan; rendering the quotes as inane as they clearly are, in a way they were never intended to be heard. It’s a brilliant way of satirising the music industry, and there’s not many people that could pull that off.
The album continues in this vein, in both directions. After 55 singles, 11 albums and 30 years, you wouldn’t expect that the Pet Shop Boys to have lost any of the brilliant songwriting craft or sense of humour that made them famous in the first place. The album is peppered with a witty, fresh and comfortable type of magic: tracks are about fading stars (‘Your Early Stuff’), perving on the bright young things (‘A Face Like That’) and getting old (‘Invisible’) this is a record that can only be made after a long time in the industry.
Musically, the oft-imitated electronic foundations of the PSB sound remain, overlaid with provocative lush orchestration in parts, and kept sparse in others. There’s hit writing here on buried album tracks that lesser bands would be shouting from the rafters about and really it proves that PSB still take the gold for sharp writing. This is the first album they’ve ever recorded in America – and you can hear the influences; something tells me that they’re not massive fans of the States.
Having never really given PSB the time it deserves before, I definitely feel like I’ve missed out. Obvs I’ve heard the singles and delved into some of their early/well-known stuff, but I’ve got a feeling that Elysium is going to be my gateway drug into a load of brilliant pop classics from the last 25 years. And if these discoveries are half as fresh, exciting and downright funny as this record then I’m definitely in for a treat.
Elysium is out today on Parlophone
- Seb Law