I’m feeling a lot more energised now we are well into the 21st century albums. Fever was a tough act to follow, and naturally Body Language doesn’t QUITE hit the dizzy heights of its predecessor. However just as Madonna’s American Life in the same year was much derided for taking a less commercial route, Body Language (to a less extreme degree) has its resonance with me. Perhaps it was because of my life at the time, it was a good time for me and that always contributed to pleasant memories.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend this is crammed wall-to-wall with gold, it’s not. But I do like the offbeat style to the album, not courting the dollar in my opinion, but maybe this choice of style does, and it doesn’t QUITE sit right. Kylie, try as she might, is a mainstream popstar. It’s good to try new things, but ultimately trying something new is rarely something that is appreciated at the time. It just doesn’t feel like the real Kylie somehow. REPULSIVE cover art too, despite a great album title.
10 Slow: A fanbase #1 is a #1 nonetheless, and while it didn’t appeal to have much longevity sales-wise in the UK I really love this. That bassline joined with minimal electronic production doesn’t really feel like a hit single. But somehow it just IS, at the time I felt real excitement at this when it emerged as the lead single. Whether this muted any hit potential for the album’s longterm success is something for the Kylie historians, but I think it’s one of my favourite Kylie songs.
07 Still Standing: Squinky synth intro announces that the opening track wasn’t an experimental prototype, and avant garde electro production was the order of the day. It’s a bit of a scattered affair, beeps and swirls all over the place, backing vocals whooping and hooting away. The chorus doesn’t quite have enough energy to get it away from the verses but it’s not bad. I can sort of imagine it in a club, it’s not a singalong smash by any stretch of the imagination but it’s not bad.
09 Secret (Take you home): 80s tinged (actually is it? maybe that’s just a reflex opinion when faced with so many synthy flourishes). I always had this pegged as a single, certainly ahead of pre-remix Chocolate. Am I imagining that this had something to do with Miss Dynamite? Anyway it apparently had NINE writers, but it seems to pay off, this is one of the stronger tracks on the album. Buckle up baby feel my SPEEEED!
08 Promises: The unusual but defined sound of this album continues unabated. I do quite like this despite the chorus being a bit flat. The tempo on the verses keeps it afloat, and I love those walls of synths in the chorus. When I say the chorus is a bit flat, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be a hook. I’m not averse to letting the production take top billing in a song from time to time, and I think that saves this song.
07 Sweet music: Perhaps the first glimpse so far of the Kylie who made Fever. That bassline starting things off is rather lovely especially fading into the bridge, a nice clubby-feeling track. Or sort of anyway, it’s lacking a certain something. Again this is evident in the rather hookless chorus. I don’t dislike this song at all but it’s one of those that I struggle to remember after. Even now if you’d had said “Sweet music” to me I’d be a bit blank.
10 Red blooded woman: BOY BOY. At the time I wasn’t too hot on this as an album-saving single, I don’t recall many people feeling that way either, but perhaps I’m wrong. But that’s nine years ago now and this has really grown on me. Definitely the most commercial song on this album, I can imagine rubbishgais grinding away in some sticky club and sipping colourful cocktails already. The beat is really irresistible, the timing fits wonderfully with the verse, and the slutty bridge is amazing. BOY BOY! Oh I never get tired of that. AMAZING.
07 Chocolate: Hmm that difficult third single, and I REALLY didn’t get it. The single remix really helps, I find the album version a little drab in comparison but it’s serviceable. I’m just not a huge fan of this sort of loungey music, and I certainly don’t think Kylie suits it very well. The video was rather good but it all felt like a missed opportunity of a better single (Secret) for the sake of showcasing a different sound that wasn’t particularly representative of the album in any case.
09 Obsession: Oh speaking of lost singles, THIS would have been perfect too, that buzzing almost-Latin vibe really pushes my buttons. This is also one of the rare moments where I don’t tune out the lyrical content, it’s not exactly pioneering but I find it well written and a great chorus. I really wish that made it as a single, I always feel a bit lifted when this comes up in the tracklist.
06 I feel for you: Ooh thunder effect, this is usually a good sign. But then … WTF? A rather cheesy Light Years beat and intro, and then rather bewildering voice samples “OHHH BITCH FAT”, or something like that. Not really sure what that’s all about but it’s one of the few features that makes this track memorable. I sort of like the verses, her voice is decent, but then there’s this squawking going on in the back. The chorus is flat as a pancake though, and the whisper-vocals are quite hideous. OOOOHH-HHH BII-BIITCH FAA-FAATT
04 Someday: Couldn’t we have just finished as Obsession? I find this track a real CHORE, memorable in a dull kind of way, like a toothache. Hate the vocals, the chorus is just like a funeral dirge. A real STRUGGLE. I’m sure this is a fan fave as sure as I type these words.
08 Loving Days: Follow that? Luckily it’s a pretty serviceable slowie with a seductive Massive Attack-esque backing and some lovely strings too (you know how I feel about those). Not exactly a toe-tapper but the strings and the backing (or lack of, in places) adds a nice sense of gravity to the track. The bridge fires off nicely, the chorus might be a bit flimsy but generally I think it has succeeded at what it was trying to do (whatever that was).
06 After Dark: Heh .. they really needed to quit at 11 tracks, Loving Days would have been a lovely closer. But no, instead we get this ‘chillout’ loungey thing that I presume is supposed to be sexxyyyy but ends up about as seductive as the Liberty X track it keeps reminding me of (the first bits of the verses). I wish she wouldn’t end words with that sort of sighing HEHHH syllable like it’s supposed to be sexy (sexehhh), that’s really her WORST habit in my mind. Bit of a damp one to finish on, if this is after dark I wish I had got an early night (ZING! *klunk*).
So it’s not a perfect album, and while I will give some credit for trying something different, it feels like it’s never as effortlessly great as Fever was. Maybe Fever backfired a little by propelling her forward as a sex object, she feels obliged to make sexy-sounding songs and some of the more blatant attempts don’t really do anything for me. I mean look how Janet Jackson turned out… BE WARNED. Just be radiant and sing great songs and people will fancy you anyway, there’s no need for jazzy chilled guff like we’ve heard on this album.
As is often the case, despite the overall album ending up somewhere in the middle, the highs are amazing and I feel at least this makes the change in sound a little rewarding, I’m just thankful the extended break between albums seems to prevent her making Body Language II. Obviously I’m not thankful that this extended break was for breast cancer treatment, but you know what I mean.
Keepers for the iPod: Slow, Secret (Take you home), Red blooded woman, Obsession.