Friday, 28 September 2012

My Musical Diary XXXI

Welcome to the 31st edition of My Musical Diary. The past few days have been full of different kinds of music for me and it was hard choosing just 5 songs...therefore I had to add a bonus at the end of the regular entry... Hope you'll enjoy.

Wings - Band on the Run 



Linda McCartney would have turned 71 on the 24th of September this year. And when I turned on the radio that day, what did not start playing but her hubby, her and some other dudes - and one of the best Paul McCartney written post-Beatles songs. Technically, Linda is credited as a co-writer but that doesn't really reflect her involvement as a songwriter. Anyway, I thought it was cute....her birthday, this song - which I love. Similarly to Yoko or Courtney Love Linda gets flack for being a rockstar wife. Paul pretty much couldn't part from her and let her do a lot of hard business and personnel decisions because she was simply much tougher and cooler than him. I can't help but respect that lady, her detractors be damned.

Blondie - Maria



And here comes another tough respect-commanding lady. Debbie fucking Harry. Maria was one of the first Blondie songs I'd heard before I started listening to them a bit more "properly" about 7 or 8 years ago. Everyone knows Heart of Glass but Maria was the Blondie song that was on the highest rotation on Czech radios in '99/2000, around the time I started to get into popular music. I loved the song then, and I love it still. It gives me chills. It's heart warming to read Maria actually made it to no. 1 in the UK. How many times does this happen: a band reunites after almost two decades and comes up with a hit. Debbie was already in her mid-50's when this happened. A little miracle of a song, this.

Roxy Music - Do The Strand



It was Bryan Ferry's birthday 2 days ago and I celebrated it with a lot of Ferry/Roxy Music listening. Since I featured Bryan's solo career twice in my previous diary, it's only fair to choose a Roxy song this time. And not an ordinary Roxy song (if there is such a thing), THE song. I became a fan of this band about 6 years ago, hilariously enough, even though I'd known about their existence even before I became a hardcore Bowie fan a decade ago, it took Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys gushing over Do The Strand to make me actually check this band's music out.

And I was lucky the first video that came up on YouTube when I searched for Strand was one taken from a German TV music show called Musikladen. It's from the early '73, before Brian Eno left Roxy Music. Everything is just perfect about this performance. The band is brilliant and ridiculous (and hilarious at times) and there's nothing I love more than an artist that makes me laugh and admire their music at the same time (The Beatles or aforementioned PSB being a case in point). Not even Lady Gaga can top the trousers Andy McKay is wearing in this performance. And Bryan in his white suit and black shirt is just perfection. Excuse me but I have to type these 3 capital letters: UNF.

And just like that I became a Roxy Music fan.

You can check out the whole Musikladen performance here:



Lana Del Rey - Ride



Lana performed at as part of the iTunes festival a few days ago and I watched the live feed and just loved it. No, she is not a pitch-perfect singer but I just like her style. She had jeans and a sweatshirt on, she was all shy and awkward and she sang these weird dark jazzy/chanson-y pop songs and she completely transported me to another dimension.

She's also been in the music news this week with the announcement that a Paradise Edition of Born to Die with 9 new song is going to be released on November 12th and the first single out of that edition (9 new songs? why not a new album FFS?!) is Ride. A signature Lana tune. Dreamy, a doll gone bad/crazy sort of thing. Love it.

I've got a war in my mind.

David Bowie - Five Years



This is hands down the most random choice on this list. I was watching an old 50's British war film called The Sea Shall Not Have Them a few nights ago and the film's two main stars, Michael Redgrave and Dirk Bogarde spend almost the entire film marooned in a dinghy with two other guys, wet and frozen. And after the film ended what did I not have stuck in my head but and it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor... Now, I don't know if anyone else can find this funny but there you go.

As for the song itself...I think the Ziggy album is as a whole overrated (Hunky Dory is a wee bit superior) but Five Years is a wonderful song. The lyrics are great, the drums intriguing, the music and Bowie's singing dramatic...it's a weird song, but in a way it's a perfect song and a perfect record.

Here you can watch a documentary on The Spiders from Mars that is mostly idiotic music critics masturbating but some of the points they make about this song are quite good. It also features Woody & Trevor.



Bonus

I mentioned sorting out my CDs the other week. I've discovered a LOT of compilation albums amongst them. Mostly Compilations sold with Q Magazine issues. Yesterday I was searching for a fun compilation, since it was my birthday, and all, and discovered a 6 years old Q compilation made up of covers. I know that it sounds dire but it's probably my favourite Q CD ever. I used to listen to it over and over - and when I played it last night I understood all over again why I loved it so much. Most of the 14 tracks are just amazing.  Franz Ferdinand covering Gwen Stefani. Nick Cave singing Pulp's Disco 2000. Travis's (in)famous cover of Britney's ....Baby One More Time.

I'm posting my two favourites here. Paul Anka swinging up Oasis's Wonderwall (and making it much cooler than the original, mind you) and Richard Hawley perfecting an already amazing Jesus and Mary Chain song Some Candy Talking with his magnificent baritone . Here you go:





Check out the full track listing here.

Thanks for making it this far, guys. Hope you enjoyed reading, listening and watching.....share and comment if you wish. And I hope you'll come back for more next week...

....till then

Peace, Love and Ringo!

Friday, 21 September 2012

My Musical Diary XXX

Wow. I can't believe I've been doing this for this long. The30th edition of My Musical Diary. Definitely my personal record. And since this is a special occasion, it commands a special blog. Therefore this week I'm not stopping at 5 songs. My favourite number is 7, so for this edition only, I'll blab about 7 songs. And, as per usual, it will be a mixed bag of new releases and older to ancient songs. Here we go!

Christina Aguilera - Your Body

Listen to the song here.

Judging from what kind of songs have become hits recently, this new Christina Aguilera single could definitely be one to. It's not a particularly smart or originally sounding song but it's catchy enough and one can dance to it. So...what more can you want from a radio/dance club hit....not everyone can be Robyn.

The Killers - Here with Me

Listen to the song here.

I originally wanted to write a review of the brand new album Battle Born this week. But I have very mixed feelings about it and just like with Gaga's Born This Way I might end up making my mind up for so long I will actually never write that review... But in any case, I gave the album a few listens and there are some stand-out songs on it.

Here with Me is one of them, if not the biggest one. The song is not particularly original, Brandon has definitely written better lyrics than for this song (The Killers are not the sort of band I'd expect to use the words "picture" and "cell phone" together, in a grand sweeping chorus) and even though there is part of my brain who tells me Here with Me is actually kind of cheesy....I can't help myself but love this song.

I hope it never gets played to death on the radio the way similarly sounding 80's rock ballads do. It's the sort of song which could become well hated by certain group of people for being very popular with the mainstream audience.



Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

Listen to the song here.

2006's Crazy is one of the songs which got so well loved they subsequently become just as hated for being everywhere and for everyone thinking they could cover it. I was also one of those who eventually got sick of it. But then a few days ago the song came on the radio and I was blown away again. The song manages to borrow just enough from the 60's and 70's so it's an actual quality song, not just a manufactured hit, but the production of it...6 years on it still sounds groovy and actually less dated than a lot of the dance-pop stuff happening today. But the lyrics...wow. I actually don't think I ever paid much attention to them way back when. And they actually make a lot of sense - now that I've watched Cee Lo on the US version of the Voice I totally get where he is coming from. The song doesn't even have to be about drugs, guys, Cee Lo is totally out there, in the best possible way. The interpretations of Crazy are almost endless - what a clever little song, in multiple ways.

I remember when
I remember I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much


Bryan Ferry - I Thought

I was sorting out my CDs this week and somehow ended up listening to quite a lot of Ferry. This guys has written a shitload of great songs and it's hard to choose just one. But I Thought is truly special. It came out 10 years ago on a very strong album called Frantic and it's the album's closing track. It also marks Ferry's first co-write with Brian Eno in decades. The song has a lovely melody and Bryan's voice just sounds so orgasm-inducing on it. The lyrics show again what a hopeless romantic, artist looking for an ideal, Ferry is. Mr Ferry's birthday is coming up next Wednesday and while I don't particularly believe in how the Zodiac signs relate to a person's character I have to admit that I find myself having quite a few things in common with this old rock star I never met (not the whoring though or sympathies for the political right). I could have shared my birthday with him had I been timely, but I was not, I arrived a day too late. Oh well.

Unfortunately I can't find the studio version of I Thought online anywhere, and the following live version of it is, in my opinion, not as good (the slower tempo of the studio version just makes more sense to me), but better something than nothing - in this case at least. So enjoy - and try previewing the studio version of this song on iTunes or other digital sellers - you might like. It would definitely be worth your money.



Bryan Ferry - Sympathy for the Devil

Listen to the song here.

Not only is Bryan Ferry a great songwriter, he's also a pretty good interpret of other people's songs. He is not the best vocalist but his singing style has always been distinctive enough that his take on other people's material has always been interesting, and in many cases also an improvement on the original or more famous versions. Ferry has released four covers-only albums: two in the early 70's (These Foolish Things in '73 and  Another Time, Another Place in '74) and two in the last 13 years (As Time Goes By in '99 and Dylanesque in 2007). Just like me, Bryan has a soft spot for classic 20's to 50's songs and he's recorded many of them, but after some deliberation I decided to pick one of the few rock covers he's done: Sympathy for the Devil, a cut from his first solo album These Foolish Things. I chose this one mostly because for me his version is hands down superior to the original by the Rolling Stones. Bryan makes the perfect Devil: slick, sleek, smart, disdainful and while he's not an actor he manages to rival Al Pacino's monologues in The Devil's Advocate.



David Bowie - Lady Stardust demo

Listen to the song here.

Lady Stardust has always been one of my very favourite Bowie songs. For years I slightly favoured the live version of this song which is featured at the Bowie at the Beeb album (CD 2) but a few years back I discovered a demo of Lady Stardust and this version just completely rocks. Acoustic and minimalistic - just Bowie and a piano, a bit rough in places; fragile, but at the same time regal and full of timeless melancholy. The song was most likely inspired by Bowie's friend Marc Bolan, and since on the 16th of September every year we remember the sad anniversary of Marc's untimely tragic death, this week's edition of Diary is a prefect opportunity to remember this amazing early version of Lady Stardust here.




T. Rex - 20th Century Boy



Now, I like me some Marc Bolan here and there. I love some of his songs but I can't say my knowledge of his discography extends beyond a best of double album. Therefore my Marc Bolan song choice here is one of the best known T. Rex songs. But hey, it is one of the best rock songs ever, so why should it not close this blog?? :o)


Thanks for reading this 30th edition of my famous Musical Diary - if you have any comments or questions, hit the comment section. Also, if you liked this entry, feel free to share it - the buttons should be below.

Have a great week and see you next week when I'm already 25 years ancient. ;o)

Until then....

Love, Peace and Ringo!

Friday, 14 September 2012

My Musical Diary XXIX

Hi guys! Friday is here. No weddings or headaches this time *knocks on wood* so my newest Musical Diary is back to its Friday slot. Here we go!

Robbie Williams - Candy

Check the song out here.
  
Robbie unveiled his newest comeback single (co-written by Gary Barlow) this Monday and when I first heard it my reaction was... WTF is this?! But then I went with the flow. It's fun, it's catchy, it's Robbie. Looking forward to the album but hoping there is a good ballad there too, that it's all not just candy and fluff.

The way I feel about this song is actually very similar to my feelings about David Bowie's Blue Jean. There's something telling me I should be guilty about liking these incredibly poppy pop songs but I just can't feel guilty about it because guilty pleasures are just silly pseudo-intellectual crap. If you like something, own up to it. End of.

A video for Candy has already been released too - my thoughts on it are in the bonus section.

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Bottomfeeder



Amanda Fucking Palmer has released a new album called Theatre Is Evil - I wrote a few words about it earlier this week (you can read my review-ish entry here). I pretty much like the whole album and it's hard for me to choose one song to represent it here. Or two songs, same thing. So my choice has been made completely randomly (apart from excluding songs that have already been featured here previously). Go listen to the whole album and make your own opinion on what the best representative song on it is.

Bottomfeeder sounds so cool. Is that Amanda doing reggae? A bit. And then there is the piano, of course. Reggae with a piano and a glam band? Why the hell not.

Lyrics-wise...people are picking up on references. Courtney Love and stuff. What I read there is being sad about someone who could enjoy their life but prevent themselves from doing so by being pissed off about something all the time. Maybe it's because I grew up surrounded by a lot of negativity in my family (plus there's a lot of it in the media a generally just everywhere), so I'm very sensitive to this. Costs me so much energy not to be pissed off about people being pissed off.

'Cos the cabs ain't comin'
Yeah the sun's not shinin'
Yeah the bath keeps runnin'
Yeah it keeps on rainin'
But the band keeps playing


P!nk - Slut Like You 


I realise it's a bit weird featuring just one Amanda song since I liiiiiike the new album so much but P!nk's unveiled quite a few new songs this week too but I only managed to listen to two of them so far. And since each of them is quite different I decided to address them separately. 

Slut Like You is very upbeat, sexy and fun. It manages to be a pop song but sound very punk at the same time. And it quotes a Bowie song. Slut Like You is sung from a point of view of a girl who just wants to have fun. A straight guy stereotype's dream.

Hope this one's a hit...it definitely follows in the footsteps of So What. The sort of song you'd want to croak along to when it starts playing on the radio.

P!nk - Try



And here we have a P!nk power rock-pop ballad. It's not a new direction for this singer at all but would her fans really want her to change what she does best? She's always been an unusual female pop artist with a rock edge. Upbeat cheeky songs and beautiful rock ballads are her thing, and actually...not many other female artists can do this and be this successful at the same time. So go on, do your thing, Alecia. We're still enjoying this.

a-ha - Out of Blue Comes Green


It's Morten Harket's birthday today. So I suppose it's perfectly alright if my closing song in this edition of my dear Musical Diary is a song featuring his precious voice. I'm not exactly very fond of a-ha's 1988 Stay On These Roads album. It's very hit or miss. But Out of Blue Comes Green has always been one of my very favourite a-ha songs. Not sure what the song is about exactly - a lot of the band's lyrics kind of feel like they've been written in Norwegian and then ran through Google Translate, bless. But the song is unusual, dramatic, shows off Morten's vocal register and while it features synths it has certain rock edge to it and foreshadows what was going to come with a-ha's next two albums.

Video bonus: 

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - The Killing Type



Directed by the legendary British music video film maker Tim Pope, it's probably a big metaphor for something but to my brain it's just a very literal depiction of the song's key lyric but I would kill to make you feel. Amanda and the Grand Theft Orchestra guys are dressed in white pretty much because the red that comes later on can contrast with it well. I can't say I don't like the video but I'm not wowed by it as many Amanda fans who feel moved by it and think it's the best thing ever. It's not the sort of video I'd want to watch over and over again.

Robbie Williams - Candy



Call me shallow. This is the sort of video I'd watch a couple of times instead of once. Yes, it's silly. But sorry, can't help myself. It's just fun. I like fun Robbie. Plus he can be much sillier than this (rabbits, anyone? shedding skin?). This is the right amount. Also he looks good in pink.

Thanks for reading my newest edition of My Musical Diary and see ya next week: the 30th edition will be upon us. That would call for something special... ;)

Peace, Love and Ringo!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil --Introduction & Review--



There's no way I can write my usual review thingy here. This is Amanda Fucking Palmer. I can't just write the stuff I usually write. Amanda is unlike anyone I've ever listened to but at the same time she's like a composite of everyone I've ever listened to.

I discovered her thanks to an article on the Dresden Dolls in a Czech music magazine about seven years ago. I immediately knew the band would be my thing. A piano - drums duo playing something called Punk Cabaret. Fuck yeah! I saw the Dolls live in the spring of 2006. Unforgettable. I subsequently saw Amanda two more times as a solo artist and can't already wait for the upcoming Prague gig. I feel so blessed that at least one of my favourite artists tours Czech Republic so frequently and furthermore that it's someone who is always so energetic and simply amazing live. 

I've watched her evolve in the past seven years. I haven't been here since the very beginning of the Dresden Dolls, I even missed the first album and its touring era but still, seven years is not a short period of time. Amanda went from being on a major label and fronting a two-piece band to being a solo artist who managed to crowdsource over a million of dollars for her newest record. She worked her butt off in the meantime: two more Dresden Dolls albums, two Evelyn Evelyn albums (a collaboration with Jason Webley), two solo albums, a solo ukulele EP, a (recorded) tour with her husband. Endless blogging and tweeting - keeping in close contact with her fans - and since that proved more fruitful than promotion from the label she was signed to, she asked to be dropped from it. There's no other artist I've ever listened to that I'm happier for and more proud of than Amanda Palmer. All the media attention she gets these days is more than just well deserved, it's hard earned. 

Theatre Is Evil is unlike anything Amanda has done before, it's a big album. But at the same time it's a direct evolution from all her previous projects, especially her first solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. WKAP was pretty much the first time Amanda's music was not mostly minimal. There were guitars and brass and other stuff. It wasn't just Amanda with her piano (and Brian Viglione's drums), it was bigger than that and I needed some time to adjust to this new sound. I mean I don't exclusively listen to piano and vocal only music, obviously - but Amanda had been about this punk minimalism for me up until the point WKAP was released. It was the familiar Amanda musical and lyrical language but it was a little less her and a little more...everyone else. And Theatre goes even further this way. But this time I welcome it. I get it. It doesn't surprise me at all. This is what Amanda Fucking Palmer is about these days. There's a band (The Grand Theft Orchestra), there are synths, the whole 80's feeling is here. But in the centre of it all there is this one badass woman, still doing her Punk Cabaret, even if a bit differently.

I think people who have never heard of AFP could listen to Theatre Is Evil and get a great introduction into this whole new strange but familiar world. 

I don't think there is one weak song on the album. Do It With a Rockstar will make you wanna ...do it with a rockstar. The Bed Song will make you cry. Want It Back will make you wanna learn how to play bass. Melody Dean will make you wanna listen to My Sharona on repeat. Massechusetts Avenue will make you want to go to a pub. Bottomfeeder will make you marvel such a cool song could be written about someone fucking up their life. A Grand Theft Intermission will make you wish you were in a band. I could go on. There are 15 songs on the album......yet it never feels long. it never feels too much. It makes you wanna listen on and on and on.

Yeah. If you don't really know Amanda Palmer's music, go get Theatre is Evil. You can pay what you want for it. You can even get it for free, legally. Go. Worst thing that can happen is you won't like it.

But if you do like it, then maybe in seven years time you will go back to this blog in your mind and realise that's where it all began. 

That would be cool.

Want It Back video



The Bed Song lyrics

Exhibit A
We are friends in a sleeping bag splitting the heat
We have one filthy pillow to share and your lips are in my hair
Someone upstairs has a rat that we laughed at
And people are drinking
And singing Van Halen and Slayer on a ukulele tear

Exhibit B
Well, we found an apartment
It’s not much to look at
A futon on a floor
Torn-off desktop for a door
All the decor's made of milk crates and duct tape
And if we have sex
They can hear us through the floor
But we don’t do that anymore

And I lay there wondering, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You took the blanket, so I took the bedsheet
But I would have held you if you'd only

Let me

Exhibit C
Look how quaint
And how quiet and private
Our paychecks have bought us a condo in town
It's the nicest flat around
You picked a mattress and had it delivered
And I walked upstairs
And the sight of it made my heart pound
And I wrapped my arms around me

And I stood there wondering, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You walked right past me and straightened the covers
But I would still love you if you wanted a lover
And you said
All the money in the world
Won't buy a bed so big and wide
To guarantee that you won't accidentally touch me
In the night

Exhibit D
Now we're both mostly paralyzed
Don't know how long we've been lying here in fear
Too afraid to even feel
I find my glasses and you turn the light out
Roll off on your side
Like you've rolled away for years
Holding back those king-size tears

And I still don't ask you, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You take the heart failure
I'll take the cancer
I've long stopped wondering why you don't answer

Exhibit E
You can certainly see how fulfilling a life
From the cost and size of stone of our final resting home
We got some nice ones right under a cherry tree
You and me lying the only way we know
Side by side and still and cold

And I finally ask you, what was the matter?
Was it a matter of worse or of better?
You stretch your arms out and finally face me
You say I would have told you

If you'd only asked me
If you'd only asked me
If you'd only asked me

Sunday, 9 September 2012

My Musical Diary XXVIII

My newest Musical Diary is here. Sorry for the delay (there were weddings and headaches, literally). Without further ado...here we go!

Pet Shop Boys - Memory of the Future



Pet Shop Boys are releasing a new album around the world - Elysium. A solid, understated album (see my review here) that takes a while to grow on you - but Memory of the Future was an instant love for me. The song starts and it's fine, okay...and the the killer chorus comes and it's all love in the park, doves and stuff. Can't get enough of this song.

Fred Astaire - Something's Gotta Give



I watched Daddy Long Legs about a week ago and even as a 50-something longing for a 20-something, singing & dancing, Fred was just so adorable. Oh well, I have a soft spot for him. Now Fred didn't think he was a singer, let alone a good singer but hell, he sang just fine without any autotune and he sang with soul. He had a very straight-up approach to singing and it worked so well for him and his listeners. It was his voice that introduced many 30's-50's songs to the world before other singers tried their luck with them.  Something's Gotta Give is one of these songs. Sammy Davis Jr or Ella Fitzgerald recorded this song later but it was Fred for whom it was written and it was he who sang it first, in Daddy Long Legs. Subtle and charming, and at the same time quite powerful.

Bing Crosby (& Grace Kelly) - True Love



I've been recommended some films featuring Bing Crosby recently so I decided to watch the 1956 musical-ish adaptation of the play and 1940 film classic The Philadelphia Story, called High Society, which not only features Bing but also Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and the recently deceased Celeste Holm. Wondering who wrote all the songs for this film? None other than Cole Porter. Now, I don't think True Love is Cole's best song (I prefer the clever witty ones...see video bonus) but hell, Bing works this song so well with his bass-baritone...that I don't even mind Grace meowing into it about half-way through. It's a beautiful melody and Bing's voice complements it well, managing to keep it from being overly sentimental.

Marc Almond - My Guardian Angel

[no audio available]

Oh dear, I'm being all tender this week. I actually chose all these songs waaay before writing this blog - I don't think any weddings factored in this. But so it happens, we here have another love song, the fourth one in a row. My Guardian Angel is definitely amongst the lesser known Marc Almond songs, it appears as a b-side on Marc's mid-90's single Child Star. I used to own and love this song but then I lost it and only recently recovered it thanks to a friend. And the love came right back. 

I don't think Angel is necessarily a love song. It could be about a friend, a life-partner or just an...angel, a force which protects us and helps us to carry on. It's sad that this song's burried as a b-side on a single, on the other hand though...it's so much more special because of it.

Thank you, my guardian angel
For my second chance
I wanted to end it forever
Now I want to dance
You helped me to respect my life
With all the love you send
Thank you, my guardian angel
Thank you, my friend


Patrick Wolf - Born to Die



Heh. Lately it seems that it wouldn't be a Musical Diary without a Lana song. This time it's an excellent live cover version of Born to Die that Patrick Wolf performed on the Dermot O’Leary radio show recently. I'm a fan of Patrick's, have seen him in concert twice, so this for me is definitely an event. One of my fave artists covering another and the result is stunning.

Video bonus: 

Celeste Holm & Frank Sinatra - Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

More from High Society. This is so genius (Cole's music and especially hilarious lyrics, as well as Celeste's and Frank's performance), it actually made me laugh and tear up a bit at first. Enjoy:



It's ironic this title was then stolen by the TV show, stripped of all its wits.



Thanks for reading this belated entry - comment or ask below if you want to. Hope you enjoyed the songs and my blabbings and see you again next week!

Peace, Love and Ringo!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pet Shop Boys - Elysium - Review

Suppose you're more or less retired now
I think I read somewhere how
You've written a book or a film score
Amazing that you like, come back for more

(Your Early Stuff)

Elysium, the newest Pet Shop Boys album, is just about to be released around the world and since I've been a fan of this band for about seven years now I feel like I should give the album a review treatment here. As some of you probably know from your own experience, being a fan of someone doesn't automatically mean you love everything they do, on the contrary, sometimes you can be pretty critical to whatever new material your lovelies come up with. And if it is such an excellent band such as the Pet Shop Boys, who hasn't released a bad album in their whole career, expectations can be pretty high and the disappointments proportionately great.

I've seen Elysium being compared to Behaviour. Is it better than Behaviour, though? 
Well, it is not better than Behaviour because it's quite different from Behaviour. Comparing Behaviour to Elysium just because they are both understated non-dancy-pop Pet Shop Boys records is like comparing Madonna and Lady Gaga because they are both fierce Italian American female pop singers. Yes, people do that all the time but such comparisons are simplistic and lazy and those people who make them are idiots. But I digress.  

Elysium is a fine sophisticated electro-pop record. But it takes a while for you to warm up to. After the first listen the only song that I really loved was Memory of the Future. This song actually still remains my very favourite but with repeated listens other songs have emerged as contenders: the second single Leaving, the closing track Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin (a title which is so Rufus Wainwright-y that I can't help my brain from making this connection even though the song has nothing do with Rufus). All excellent songs with all their components in perfect harmony. And, Winner, the album's "olympic single" is also one of the album's most approachable songs (I personally like it very much).

Another song that stands out on Elysium is the co-write with 18th century composer Georg Friedrich Händel called Hold On. The choir singing hold on, there's got to be a future, hold on could bring a tear to one's eye. A hymn trying to cheer up Earthlings living in the time of economical crisis might not be very subtle but since for once the Pet Shop Boys are not even a little bit smart-ass and ironic it is a truly touching moment on the album.

And then I am left with a few songs that for me are almost there but not quite yet. Either we will click at some point or we just won't. Aforementioned Ego Music has very smart witty lyrics but its chorus is just rubbing me the wrong way (music-wise). Your Early Stuff is a case of excellent title, lyrics are witty but musically the song just never goes anywhere (even if the rhythm of the chorus is quite catchy). Face Like That is a wee bit too reminiscent of some of those tracks on the Pet Shop Boys first two albums that I tend to skip. There's nothing wrong with it but it's also not exactly remarkable. Give It A Go is cute. Invisible has a Nightlife-ish vibe - a solid song one has to be in the mood for though.

Overall I'm quite happy with Elysium - it will be a great companion for autumn's rainy afternoons and evenings. As long as Pet Shop Boys are here and keep making records 3/4 as good as this one, I'll be ecstatic. 

There actually are not that many artists that make you feel a bit smarter while you listen to their music. All sorts of music can make you happy or touch you but what about a kind that can make you feel a bit more cultural and brainy, even if for just 50 minutes? That's why we love the Pet Shop Boys and that's why we need them. They make us laugh and they make us think. And with their new album they might actually teach us something about patience as well. In the best possible way.