Pop's elder statesmen Pet Shop Boys pare things back on their 11th studio album, a collection of lustrous and reflective mid-tempo jams peppered with Neil Tennant's and Chris Lowe's signature wit. The Boys worked with producer Andrew Dawson after listening to Kanye West's previous two solo albums, and the result is one of their most serene and sonically consistent efforts to date.
Unlike many of their younger pop contemporaries, PSB are ambitious in their songwriting inspiration, revelling in fleeting emotions and avoiding the makeup/breakup subject matter that's so oppressively ubiquitous. They tackle that topic in Ego Music, a scathing spoken word track that could be a mashup of every Lady Gaga interview ever. Your Early Stuff, meanwhile, brilliantly satirizes the plight of the aging pop star.
However, many of the album's delights are more subtly cunning. The centrepiece is the dramatic Hold On, a song sweeping in its choral grandeur yet deceptive in its simplicity. It exemplifies why Elysium is one of the year's most beautiful pop albums.
Top track: Hold On