Elton John vs Pnau – Good Morning To The Night (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
I GUESS this was always going to happen… Elton John so liked Sydney electro-pop duo Pnau that he signed them to his management company and so, in kind, they have now reciprocated this mutual appreciation by crafting a new album around the sounds of his past.
The result is an engaging listen that pays neat homage to some of the more obscure songs in Sir Elton’s back catalogue, while sounding contemporary and fresh enough to appeal to the kind of listeners who get their musical kicks from the likes of Scissor Sisters and Empire of the Sun (whose Nick Littlemore is, ironically, one half of Pnau with Peter Mayes) not to mention spaced out and psychedelic enough, on occasion, to also appeal to the Pink Floyd brigade.
The album is at its most satisfying, though, when keeping things upbeat and more resolutely pop, as on title track and opening salvo Good Morning To The Night, which employs slick disco beats, jangling ‘70s leaning guitars and an unrecognisable reinvention of Elton’s 1972 song Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters.
Sad, meanwhile, continues the disco theme and includes elements from a number of Elton originals, including Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Crazy Water and Curtains.
The funk and brass combo that is Black Icy Stare is also a fantastic party anthem, even hinting at a reggae vibe as part of its re-invention (which incorporates Cold Highway, You’re So Static and Solar Prestige A Gammon), while Foreign Fields has an almost ethereal element to it, while sourcing the likes of Someone Saved My Life Tonight, High Flying Bird and Sweet Painted Lady.
That latter track and Phoenix quite possibly rate as my two out and out album favourites, with Phoenix, especially, making slick, toe-tapping use of Hammond organs and samples of Benny And The Jets, Country Love Song and Three Way Affair.
Not everything works… and, indeed, when the album veers from the ethereal into the downright trippy and astral, as on Telegraph to The Afterlife, it sounds more like Pnau are paying homage to Dave Gilmour and Pink Floyd.
But odd excursions into the utterly inaccessible aside, Good Morning To The Night is a consistently intriguing and mostly fun combination of styles that makes for one of the more interesting party records of the summer.
And if you really fancy a challenge, then try naming all of the songs that have been sampled and re-invented. It’s pretty impressive just how many Pnau have used across each track.
Download picks: Good Morning To The Night, Phoenix, Foreign Fields, Kar Matron