2010’s Aphrodite was an absolute tour de force of disco gorgeousness and thus any subsequent Kylie album has a huge mountain to climb. Kylie’s selling point though has never been emotional engagement. If you’re looking for a ballad to sob too or a song to show off vulnerability you’ve come to the wrong girl. She’s been about (or at least since ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’…)
Lead single ‘Into The Blue’ is an assertive mix of 2012 Greatest Hits lead single ‘Timebob’ and 2010 Aphrodite lead ‘All The Lovers’. There’s a sweeping chorus but the beat also has direction and pounds along rather than swirling and revelling as with ‘All The Lovers’. It’s followed up by a couple of equally competent dance tracks that introduce Kylie’s characteristic disco sound more strongly.
‘Sexy Love’ is a real high point, demonstrating that Kylie’s unreservedly flirty in her fourties and that the schtick she was peddling way back when she launched everything with ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ still has a ton of mileage today. ‘Sexercize’ adds a filthier edge to proceedings and a harsher R&B edge but it feels like a welcome and natural progression from the disco. The heavy dubstep gives Kylie some attack rather than simple assertion and also feels a bit like an ode to her now sadly abandoned and truly iconic hotpants.
“I realize I get a little bit wild sometimes,” Kylie confides on ‘Feels So Good’ over hypnotic beats and you can just imagine her winking as she says it. It’s tongue in cheek because her entire career has been based (excusing a few dodgy albums in the 90s) hedonistic disco. ‘If Only’ speculates about losing the guy she thought was the one and adds a more militaristic aggression that adds another flavour to the album without jarring with the overall disco sound.
‘Les Sex’ is a stroke of pure genius. Extolling the flirty nature of the album and Kylie herself to the max, the song is sexy without straying into be slutty. It’s the kind of class only someone like Kylie Minogue has ever quite gotten right in pop. It’s flirting without straying into Gaga-esque rolling around in a bikini in goo.
‘Kiss Me Once’ is probably the only weak link in the strong chain of disco songs on the album. ‘Beautiful’ sounds out of place because of the excessive use of vocoder but Kylie owns her sections because they’re the only bits without much auto-tune. Her partner on the duet Enrique Iglesias on the other hand sounds rather smothered. Closing things strongly is “Fine” with Karen Poole, again reminiscent of Kylie’s early 00s hit ‘Love At First Sight’ and brought up to 2014 speed by a modern beat that underscores it neatly.
Kiss Me Once has done the impossible and bettered 2010’s Aphrodite. A Kylie album is a chart rarity and thus each release has a lot to do to better those that have proceeded them. There is a strong potential cluster of singles here and most importantly Kylie has stayed true to her musical identity, while advancing her sound with astute use of beats and subtly different production that separates Kiss Me Once from the LPs that have gone before. A cracking pop album and overall stunning LP, Miss Minogue is going to be a chart fixture for a long time to come.