Saturday, July 28, 2012

Elysium eleven

The cover art and release dates for "Eylsium", the eleventh studio longplayer from Pet Shop Boys, has been revealed. Huzzah!

It will likely be their last album to feature the Parlophone logo as Universal has made the decision not to use the long standing, iconic British label their acquisition of EMI has been completed.

Above, you will see the sleeve for the standard version of "Elysium". At the bottom of this post is the artwork for the limited edition, two CD edition. The second CD will be a continuous mix of the instrumentals of each track on the album. A double vinyl configuration will be issued, as well. That analog flavor will also include the instrumentals. However, no word yet on whether the tracks will be separated or mixed.

The artwork, as always, has been designed by ver Boys' long-standing visual partner, Farrow. As always, simplicity allows the artwork to stand out among the Photoshopped wasteland. They look a bit like a pair of Ibiza chill out compilations. N'est-ce pas?

The release dates for "Elysium" are a bit scattered. It will be released in Japan on September 5. Germany and most of Europe will be able to purchase it on September 7. It will hit the "shops" in the UK, France and across South America on September 10. September 11, where the album will appear on Astralwerks, is scheduled for release on September 11. Mark your calendars!

If you're part of the digital download persuasion, then the iTunes edition of "Elysium" my be your cup of tea. As a bonus, it will feature the videos for "Winner" and "Invisible" as well as track-by-track commentary of Neil and Chris discussing the music with David Walliams.

The official tracklisting of "Elysium" features the following twelve songs.

1. Leaving
2. Invisible
3. Winner
4. Your Early Stuff
5. A Face Like That
6. Breathing Space
7. Ego Music
8. Hold On
9. Give It A Go
10. Memory Of The Future
11. Everything Means Something
12. Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin

Thursday, July 26, 2012

girls and boys

It has been complete madness here at So Hip It Hurts HQ! Long days in the studio, DJ gigs in far flung places and quite a bit of travel. While we have a moment, let's chat about the video for "Winner" by Pet Shop Boys which hit the interwebs a few days ago.

The song has been given a cold shoulder even from many hardcore fans. Clearly, the tie in with the Olympics was a given. Sadly, it remains one of their weakest singles and is not nearly in a league with their best. It's pleasant enough. And I'm sure it will sit along with the other tracks on their forthcoming album, "Elysium", quite nicely. But it certainly doesn't sound like a lead single from a brand new PSB longplayer. Not to my ears.

The video, however, is another bag of donuts altogether. Tackling the issue of the transgender community is a bold move and done with ver Boys' usual penchant for clever twists and intelligent subtlety told through the story of Dirty Diana, a member of the London Rollergirls. The subtext of struggle is palpable and the beautiful tale of friendship is moving. Absolutely brilliant!

Let's have a peek.

Furthermore, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first video from Chris and Neil in which neither of them are featured. Their appearance in it might have lessened the impact of the video's important message.

The promotional clip is very timely and, hopefully, will empower a segment of the population who have felt invisible for far too long.

Monday, July 23, 2012

games without frontiers

"Video Games" by Lana Del Rey is one of those songs that never impressed me much. A lot of it has to do with her disingenuous nature and lack of substance. She has the personality of a styrofoam cup and her singing voice is less than engaging. All careful management and void of genuine style.

However, there have been several cover versions of "Video Games" that made me sit up and take notice of the song itself rather than the posturing around it. Now, Boy George lends his significant pipes to the track and delivers it with such grace and soul you'd think it was written from his pen.

This video just appeared on YouTube out of nowhere. No explanation. No hoopla. No warning. No indication that it's part of a particular project. Am I out of the loop?

Whatever the case, it appears there will be more if you read the fine print. Not sure what the connection is between the song and the clip. It's simply described as "a story of young love in bleak Britain".

I don't think the boy has sounded this rich and substantive in years! His lower register has taken on a less graveled tone. His voice has been imbued with a soulful honesty. This is the Boy George I grew to love and admire. Now let's sort out that Culture Club reunion!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

alive and kicking

George Michael returns with "White Light", his first single since his brush with death earlier in the year when he was struck down with a serious case of pneumonia in the middle of his "Symphonica" tour.

"White Light" sees George reflecting on the event with a somber musical backdrop set to a throbbing dance beat. The dark production is beautifully positioned against his uplifting, lyrical prose.

A lyric video, the latest promotional tool of choice to start the campaign behind a single, has hit the interwebs. Let's follow the bouncing ball.

From the sound of it, I would bet cash money the song was written as a ballad. But someone in George's camp must have said something, especially after the cool reception he received for his previous single, the over autotuned cover of New Order's "True Faith". And George needed another ballad like he needed anotherloverholenyohead. With that in mind, he headed back to the dancefloor. That's exactly where his fans want him to be right now.

George released his latest single to mark a very important career milestone. He issued it on the thirtieth anniversary of the day Wham! charted with "Wham! Rap", their debut single. Where has all that time gone?

"White Light" is available through all fine digital outlets. A CD single will be made available shortly which will include George's cover of "Song To The Siren", which I believe is the Tim Buckley song, as opposed to the one by Bryan Ferry.

Monday, July 2, 2012

it's alright

"Winner", the new single from Pet Shop Boys has been unveiled. I have listened to it nearly forty times and I have concluded that it is... rather weak. It took quite a while to come up with the appropriate sentiment. Nearly thirty years into their career, PSB have managed to underwhelm. Not that "Winner" is a loser. It simply feels tepid. And it certainly doesn't feel like the lead single heralding a brand new elpee. These are difficult words to type because Chris and Neil have consistently delivered top shelf tunes with sparkling production. But "Winner" falls a bit short, almost as if it isn't quite finished. It's just OK. And we've all grown accustomed to expecting much more than that from ver Boys. Even their return is rather muted and understated this time around as opposed to the triumphant fanfares of the past. Facts must be faced. After a lengthy career such as theirs, it's challenging to come up with the goods every single time. Perhaps another twenty listens will bring me around to a more favorable review. But to my ears "Winner" sure doesn't stack up against their towering pantheon of work. Here's hoping "Elysium", its parent longplayer delivers something grander and shinier within it's zeros and ones.