Pop artists going country is nothing new, and the results are usually mixed (at best). However, @kylieminogue side steps creating a diaster by pouring herself into the songs. Golden isn't a country album, but instead some of Nashville's trademarks are merged with the Aussie diva's pop sensibilities. The songs tackle love, heartbreak, longing, and mortality without losing her signature feel good vibe. Lead single "Dancing" on the surface appears to be a carefree declaration, but speaks of the final action she'd be doing before meeting her maker. The song, which also opens the album sets the soundscape that flourishes throughout Golden, a gradual build up to absolutely euphoric choruses.
Kylie is no stranger to reinvention from the experimental IMPOSSIBLE PRINCESS to her melding of electronic, r&b, and minimalism on 2004's BODY LANGUAGE. Minogue stands in a class of her because she's able to make each reinvention feel like a natural evolution as opposed to a cheap cash in, or a half-hearted attempt at revelance. On "Radio On" and "Music's Too Sad Without You" she strips down to just a mostly acoustic track allowing her vocals to take center stage. Kylie is no powerhouse vocalist, but the songs work due to the fragility and vulnerability found in the performances.
A key to Kylie's longevity, besides creating flawless pop, is her fearlessness. Whether she's shaking up her image, flirting with electronica, embracing elements of R&B, or trading in her hot pants for rhinestones. Golden is the sound of one of pop's most enduring icons, attempting and delivering another stellar body of work which stands on its own from an already dense discography.
With the much-anticipated X, her tenth proper album and first since beating cancer, Minogue doesn’t tread much new ground. More surprising, however, is X’s lack of identity. Whereas previous albums found her tackling specific genres — 2000’s Light Years embraced disco; 2002’s Fever, club music; and 2004’s Body Language, R&B — X tries too hard to please everyone, and it suffers for it.
Only occasionally does X reach the ecstatic heights of past hits like “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and “Spinning Around.” On standout track “Speakerphone,” the highly stylized product of Swedish hit-writing duo Bloodshy and Avant (writers of Britney Spears’s “Toxic”), Minogue goes robotic. And while it features some of the emptiest lyrics found on X (“Breath taking/ Rump shaking/ Music making/ Lose control/ Say it on your speakerphone/ Track repeat go on and on”), it provides an unexpectedly good time (for a song about speakerphones).
“Like a Drug” features a sample of New Romantic-era techno group Visage’s “Fade to Grey,” and it grinds and stomps with razor precision. “The One,” a new-wave powerhouse boasting an infectious disco beat, begs to be remixed and played at the club. Equally engrossing “In My Arms” is fuzzed-out, synth heavy, and full of the kind of exuberant charm that made a track like “Love at First Sight” a past hit.
With a whopping fourteen producers and twenty-six writers on board, the weak links may simply be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. It makes for an uneven overall listen, even if there are plenty of worthy tracks. X isn’t the comeback album some may have been hoping for, but it was a welcomed return for Minogue.
9 1274 days ago
The Aussie hitmaker’s follow-up to Fever, Body Language, is less immediate and more experimental, a midway point between the alternative/electronica of 1997’s Impossible Princess and Minogue’s more mainstream post-millennial work. It’s no coincidence that Body Language is filled with ’80s pop music references (she tips her hat to Reagan-era hits like Janet’s “The Pleasure Principle,” Chaka’s “I Feel for You” and, more directly, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s “I Wonder If I Take You Home” and Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round”) since much of the album is steeped in early ’80s synth-pop and disco.
“Slow,” the aptly titled lead single is a minimalist electro-pop/disco fusion with percolating crackle-and-pop beats and sugary vocal overdubs. “I Feel for You” directly references the disco era with its muted guitar riffs and bouncy keyboards, while tracks like “Still Standing” follow in the nü-disco dance-steps of Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry. Minogue sings, “I’m still standing/Keeping you dancing…Guess who’s back on top?”. “Chocolate” and “Someday,” which features guest vocals by ’80s new-wave band Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside, evoke the breathy, forlorn vocals of Mono and the gauzy melancholy of Madge’s Bedtime Stories, while the hip-hop-flavored “Red Blooded Woman” blends Timbaland-style beats with candy-coated la la la’s and a ghostly choir of men (the voices of those she’s devoured no doubt).
Body Language features several new, up-and-coming collaborators, but despite the additions, the album is surprisingly cohesive. The stand-out, bass-heavy “Sweet Music” is an ode to the magic of the modern singer/producer partnership: “I think we’re on to something/Your taste it mirrors mine/So hot and in the moment.” Body Language illustrates Kylie's willingness to take risks experimenting with her sonic landscape, and more importantly she succeeds. The record sits alongside Impossible Princess and Golden as a fearless evolutions in her dense discography.
2 1405 days ago
Aphrodite is exactly the kind of record that one would expect when crossing Kylie Minogue with Stuart Price. That is–one of the most sleek, cohesive releases of her entire catalog. To put it simply: Yes, it does live up to the hype.
The album launches with its first single, “All The Lovers.” The song is a solid representation of the bulk of Aphrodite, though far from the finest cut on the record. In fact, the soaring chorus and glittering electronica offer only a taste of what’s to come.
With much of the record, the producers on the job have taken Kylie’s disco diva connotation and added a more complex, edgier layer of dance production. Cuts like the Calvin Harris-produced, Jake Shears-penned “Too Much” are evidence of this next level sound, sounding something like a thousand glitter-filled balloons bursting all at once inside of an intergalactic vortex.
In “Closer” and “Illusion,” Minogue and Price orchestrate divine dark disco magic: The former, a slow-building haunter that shares connection to her older work (“Confide in Me”); the latter a complex mesh of ’90’s house and Ace of Base-like synthesized bliss. Throw in a relentless throbbing bass and a few sex sessions worth of heavy breathing, and you’ve got nothing short of musical bliss.
Aphrodite is full of trademark “Kylie moments” –the euphoria felt during the middle eight of “All The Lovers,” the glitchy dance breakdown at the end of “Can’t Beat The Feeling,” the hands-in-the-air glee that is the chorus of “Put Your Hands Up (For Love)”–all of these fleeting moments of divinity only add more glow the hot pink, heart-shaped aura that surrounds all things Kylie.
Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite could not be perceived as more genuine to her artistry: the record is literally the essence of Kylie in audio form. The sparkling instrumentals, the euphoric, angelic coos–everything in this album is an authentic, unapologetic encapsulation the stuff of Kylie Minogue.
10 1062:57 AM Aug 13, 2018
On her first solo outing, Jenny Lewis writes directly about the twisted fairytale of her childhood, and takes a levelheaded look at the complications of love.
The haunting title track of Rabbit Fur Coat is a mostly autobiographical rags-to-riches-to-rags-again fusion of fact, fiction and fantasy sung to a nursery-rhyme melody in waltz-time. Told in a style akin to magic realism, it's the story of a woman whose mother is waitressing and on welfare until her daughter becomes "a hundred-thousand-dollar kid", only to end up back on welfare, "still putting that stuff up [her] nose".
The already tumultuous terrain of relationships becomes even more fraught when your lover is also your bandmate, as was once the case with Jenny and Rilo Kiley co-founder Blake Sennett. The messiness of romantic entanglements surfaces on the achingly catchy "You Are What You Love," when Lewis sings: "Every morning upon waking / To you I’m a symbol or a monument / Your rite of passage to fulfillment / But I’m not yours for the taking". Or, from "Melt Your Heart": "When you're kissing someone who's too much like you / It's like kissing on a mirror".
A gifted lyricist, Jenny Lewis is also a very fine singer, landing on each note with just the right touch. She can belt it out with a soulful, Neko Case-like clarion call ("Big Guns"), put on a Lucinda Williams drawl ("Rise up with Fists!"), or purr like Margot Timmins ("Happy"). The musical stylings of all of these talented ladies echo throughout the accompaniment on Rabbit Fur Coat, but Lewis takes these elements back to their roots. Without copping a retro sound, Jenny has tapped into a fifty-year-old Americana, finding that sweet spot at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll when folk, country, gospel and vocal pop were all melding together, but before the increasingly heavy backbeat of rock displaced the lilting shuffle of Sun Studios-era rockabilly.
The former frontwoman has expertly crafted a record, which allows Lewis her own distinct sound. The indie darling stepped into her own with Rabbit Fur Coat, and the album more than a decade on is still a compelling, complex and captivating achievement.