Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Record label: Parlophone
The ageless and brilliant Kylie Minogue is an unstoppable force on the pop music scene. Long after her contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, become irrelevant, released the same boring records over and over, or embarrassed themselves in various ways, she continues to crank out inspired albums that show absolutely no dip in quality whatsoever. Working with the usual cadre of A-list producers and songwriters, her 12th studio album, Kiss Me Once, is an intoxicating blend of uptempo dance tracks, funky club cuts, sexy midtempo jams, and the occasional ballad.
To step onto a dance floor and not make a total ass of yourself, one has to be comfortable with a certain loss of control. Thinking gives way to moving. Logic is swept away by rhythm. Self-conscious thoughts evaporate. It can be an intimidating proposition, depending on your level of intoxication ….
Twenty-seven years later, “The Loco-Motion” hit-maker, who some thought might easily be but a one-hit wonder, has survived both critical scrutiny and ever-evolving musical climates. It’s not the voice, although its timbre is surely pleasant enough and she consistently sings well in a live setting, unlike many of her peers. It’s not her larger than life persona, one that defies categorization and blindsides detractors with its ingenuity.
Producers Of The Moment, Ariel Rechtshaid and Pharrell Williams, on a Kylie album? Why not? After all, the brilliance of Team Minogue has always been to hop on passing musical trends while remaining true to the essence of Kylie. In 2014 that means warped vocal effects and a martial R&B beat not a million miles away from Vampire Weekend’s ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ on ‘If Only’ and ‘Get Lucky’-ish electro disco on ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’, which features Williams at the helm. Elsewhere, there are dubstep snarls on (ahem) ‘Sexercize’, fashionably ’90s vocal cut-ups on the deep house-y ‘Fine’ and I-love-you-no-I-love-you choruses and church bells on the epic title track.
The Australian dance-pop diva recently signed a management deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation, and she's been working with crossover-friendly writers Pharrell and Sia. But if her 12th album sounds a lot like contemporary pop, that's probably just because a lot of contemporary pop bears resemblance to the effervescent club music that Minogue's been making since the Eighties. A cheesy jam called "Sexercize" and an Enrique Iglesias duet aside, most of the production has a respect-the-goddess quality befitting an icon of her status.
In decades gone by, it used to be commonplace to marvel at how pop divas reinvented themselves. Back then, a new Madonna hairdo signalled a tectonic cultural shift. When Kylie went from being an Antipodean chart moppet to a Nick Cave duettee, when she raunched up her image from girl next door to SexKylie, it seemed to mean something vast for popular culture.
Twenty-seven years into a career that was supposed to last about 27 minutes, the release of Kylie Minogue's 12th studio album seems a good moment to pose a couple of pertinent questions, namely: how? And why? These are asked without any meanness or snark intended: whatever you make of her music, there's something pretty cheering about the fact that one of Britain's biggest pop stars is a 45-year-old woman. Pop, particularly the kind of glossy, depthless pop in which Minogue deals, is a young person's game: these days, she's competing not with artists who weren't born when she released her first single, but with artists who weren't born when she made her ill-fated post-Britpop bid for indie credibility. If your career lasts 27 years, then in pop terms, you're like one of those tortoises they find on tropical islands, still apparently thriving despite the existence of photos that clearly show them with Lord Baden-Powell or General Gordon.
Kylie Minogue has become unstuck in time. She falls asleep in Pharrell’s studio and wakes up on the set of the “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” video. She walks through the door of Studio 54 in 1977 and comes out in the room where Katy Perry’s PRISM sessions happened. She has seen the release and sales figures of this album many times, and she pays random visits to all the musical events that influenced its creation.
For more than a quarter-century, Kylie Minogue has been able to maintain her pop queen status by rarely straying from her fun and frothy formula. And here again, she's convened an enviable conga line of producers/songwriters, including Pharrell Williams, Ariel Rechtshaid and Sia Furler, to work on her 12th album. Kiss Me Once finds Minogue trying out new sounds, but the best songs conform to her glam dance-pop aesthetic.
“Into the blue with nothing to lose,” sings Kylie Minogue on the lead single from Kiss Me Once, her 12th studio album. The song’s ode to adventure fits in perfectly with the developments in her career since previous album Aphrodite. There was, of course, K25 – her 2012 celebration of 25 years in pop which culminated in The Abbey Road Sessions’ orchestral reinventions of some of her most iconic hits and a mini-tour devoted to her rarities.
Don’t you love those “why did nobody think of it before?” moments? When you see something so simple and so obvious – like a paperclip, for example – that it feels somehow odd that it even had to be invented. Well, Kylie and her team (Sia Furler, Marcus Lomax, Jordan Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Clarence Coffee, Nella Tahrini, Kelly Sheehan and Alexander “Xplicit” Izquierdo) have done just that: they’ve invented GAY BROSTEP. And they’ve called it ‘Sexercize’.
How overdue is Kylie Minogue for a new album of original material? Here’s how overdue: Each of the Aussie popster’s last four releases has included one version or another of the admittedly great “All the Lovers. ” That alone makes “Kiss Me Once” cause for celebration, even if it sounds like Minogue was still building up to full strength when the clock ran out. As is her habit, she starts out with her best foot forward, in this case the arms-up ecstasy of “Into the Blue.
Global superstar Kylie Minogue has had a remarkably fluid music career. Since her time as a well-scrubbed ’80s teen-pop star, she’s graduated to glittery synthpop, sultry electro, and campy dance music, with the occasional curveballs (a Nick Cave duet, some Manic Street Preachers collabs, an orchestral record) to keep things interesting. Kiss Me Once, the singer’s 12th studio album, also feels like a departure from past work.