Album: Kylie Minogue – “Light Years” (2000)

Time to bite the bullet now, as we move on from “Indie Kylie” back into the pillowy pink fuzziness of Light Years. Now, I get the impression that this is another sacred cow in the Kylie catalogue, though aren’t they all? I hate to say it, but although this is a good album, it’s never one I’ve been too happy to play all that often. I suppose if forced to comment on why, I’d have to say that in places it’s just TOO GAY.

Knives out I’m sure, but that’s what I feel. It was clearly a good idea to get Kylie doing pop music again, and at the time this was the perfect thing to get her back in the charts. It was also a lot more knowing than previous pop efforts, it was clear that this is what people wanted from Kylie. Don’t get me wrong, there are songs on this album that are totally pitch-perfect, but I fear the gay-tinted glasses are here in force and a few turds are being overlooked.

If I had to make a laboured analogy for the album, it would be a Gillette Venus ladyshave. In some respects it fit the demographic it was designed for with ruthless efficiency. It repackages something we already had in a more modern way to make it more appealing. But there are moments when it just feels rather cheap and plasticky, no matter how pink it is. I would like to stress that I have never owned or used a Gillette Venus ladyshave.

07 Spinning around: So, the big comeback. I remember the week that it came out, I was shocked that it made such a splash, especially in such a competitive arena as the turn-of-the-century pop charts. I’ve never been a huge fan of this, it’s very catchy, but I was always just a bit perturbed by the lyrics. Evidently very autobiographical, but then I didn’t realise she didn’t like her indie turn. In fact I thought that indie was the new direction that supposedly better represented her as an artist (at least in her mind). I’m not arguing that Kylie belongs with pop, but I never quite believed that SHE thought that. Maybe I’m just reading to much into it, maybe one of the resident Kylie PhDs can fill me in. Either way, I’m quite bored of this song these days, even more so of those FUCKING HOTPANTS.

09 On a night like this: Twelve years it’s been, you know? Sigh, where did it all go? Happily Kylie spent a decent amount of it doing better-than-the-first-single followups like this. Spinning Around had its message, and that’s all well and good but I want a good SONG now. A dancier effort with a slut-tastic video, this for me was when Kylie really came back as an artist. It just feels more anthemic than Spinning Around, even though this could really have been done by anyone. Just a great song.

07 So now goodbye: Time to gay things up, with a rather naff 70s TV-show-sounding intro. I don’t know, I loved On A Night Like This because it was a great song, but it feels that songs like this one were just trying to be a great GAY song. I’m sure a lot of Al-Kylie-Da will enjoy that (clunkiest al-Qaeda pun ever?), but I suppose I just feel like it’s a bit of a stereotypical reaction to a loyal gay fanbase. Anyway the song is alright, there are better on here and this doesn’t spring to mind whenever I think of Light Years. But as an album track I’m not in a rush to skip it, which puts it above a lot of her fillers.

08 Disco Down: Gay o’clock again, and I’m a bit torn with this one. I like it better than So Now Goodbye but fucking hell there are some shit lyrics in here (“It’s been ten years now this Sunday, since you left, or was it Monday?”). The chorus is pretty good, another retro throwback but to better effect than the last track.

05 Loveboat: UGH now this is what I was talking about. Just leaves me utterly cold, naff in a really crap way, not endearing to me at all. Whoever wrote these crap one-liners needs to be SHOT. I’m sure it’s supposed to be a pastiche of something gay that I know nothing about, so excuse me for not really getting into this.

07 Koocachoo: Don’t worry kids, I like songs later on! Trying something different, borrowing a little from The Beat Goes On, and a little swingin’ 60s theme. Not really my cup of tea but it’s a change of scenery at least, for which I am very grateful. I struggle to think to highly of this as an album track either really, but I don’t hate it. It’s a sort-of-grower.

10 Your Disco needs you: Time for a U-Turn here, with what could well be the gayest song on here, but I think it’s fucking awesome. It has its critics but an epic song, I think it’s outrageous that it never got a release here, if it was over worries about being ‘too gay for the public’, then God knows how this album ever made it out at all. I think the video is marvellous, one of my favourite OTT moments of hers. Opera Kylie makes a debut too, who I think is amazing. There’s the French bits, the dramatic strings, just everything comes together in a pop masterpiece.

08 Please Stay: Third single now, and what I feel is a bit of a lost gem. I wasn’t too hot on it at the time, especially given its role as the replacement for Your disco needs you. I think also at the time I was violently ill, so I spent a rather horrible night with this stuck in my head. But time passed and while it was a bit of a generic choice to do a vaguely latin-themed song, I think this is a pretty solid, and above all SUBTLE song.

09 Bittersweet goodbye: A ballad? You’d be forgiven for forgetting there were other tempos than “up”. Almost like a lullaby, I didn’t have very strong memories of this, but it’s really rather lovely. Just Kylie and a simple piano for the first half, before a pretty little waltz section, and back into the piano. Her vocals don’t blow me away but they fit the song well.

07 Butterfly: Enough of that, time for more dance. Suprisingly feels like a bit of a throwback to earlier albums, notably Let’s get to it, and even some Impossible Princess in there. It does feel nice to have some sort of a thread running through her career like that, instead of just dumping everything in the bin up to this point. The chorus doesn’t have much to it, not really one that sticks in my head but it’s a decent enough track.

07 Under the influence of love: I feel like this is a better mix of the contemporary music and the other influences in this album, like how Loveboat probably SHOULD have been. There is a hook in the bridge that feels very familiar, anyone? The chorus is nice and catchy, the whole song has a nice sort of fuzzy feeling, which I think is what the album often tries to capture to varying degrees of success.

08 I’m so high: Again, I think the balance is pretty good here, it’s poppy and fun enough to fit Kylie, but not too OTT. I love the harmonies in the bridge/chorus. Actually, where IS the chorus? I keep thinking the “It’s a feeling” bit is leading into it but there doesn’t seem to be anything on the other side. Anyway this is sort of what I had hoped this album would be like, retro influences with a modern twist.

07 Kids (with Robbie Williams): Ugh… well surely the most overexposed part of this album now, and we get the dubious pleasure of having Robbie sticking his beak in. It’s obvious that there was benefit to be had in adding his not-inconsiderable star power to this campaign, even if it did amount to a rather rapid-fire selection of singles in the tail-end of 2000. I’m sure it was all supposed to be very ‘raunchy’, and that throwing two people so acknowledged as sex symbols together would do most of the work for them. I’ve never been a huge fan, mostly because I don’t like Robbie that much. It’s at least a bit more of a credible collab than Keith Washington. Catchy but NO MORE PLEASE, I can happily not hear this for another 10 years.

08 Light years: Concept Kylie now, the whole air steward analogy is a bit laboured, not quite “Flying the flag” levels, but let’s just keep an eye on it. Musically it’s very nice, quite retro europop-flavoured. Feels like it should be an opening track instead of a closer, maybe that’s just me. My main problem is that I’m much more used to the quite-good I Feel Light Years mashup with Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, and I don’t really like this as much as that. Still pretty good though, I like a good countdown.

So there we go, I’m sure I’ll get torrents of abuse but that’s what I feel about Light Years in as honest terms as I could find. I won’t deny its importance in getting Kyles back on the map, and I will give it some leeway as not all music ages well in 12 years. I can see what they were trying to do, it just missed as much as it hit I think. Luckily we know that it all turned out well in the end and there is a hopefully-still-fabulous album next that builds on Light Years’ foundations.

Keepers for the iPod: On a night like this, Your disco needs you, Please stay, Bittersweet goodbye

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