So we come to the latest studio album by our Kylie, and one that has met rather divided opinion from the gays. In its defence, I think it may have buckled under the weight of so much hype about ‘return to form’, especially with such a solid buzz brought on by the gorgeous artwork and titanically fabulous lead single.
When it comes to it, I don’t really put it ahead or behind of a lot of decent dance-pop albums. It’s not gold from start to finish, but it has moments of towering brilliance, and the worst it has is a small but significant number of rather generic dancey tracks that don’t leave much of an impression at all. Comparing that with X, I think the highs are higher, and the lows are nowhere near as low. Sounds like progress to me…
10 All the lovers – OH MY GAYZ. I was only 80% on board the first time I heard this, but after a few blasts that soon changed and I looned it up as much as had done when I first heard I Believe In You. This is precisely the sort of Kylie I wanted to hear in 2010, fresh-sounding but unmistakably Kylie. The video is a triumph, I love the idea behind it, launching the Aphrodite campaign brilliantly, with the goddess blessing her worshippers in a big sexpile. All this before I have mentioned that instrumental section… Stuart Price might not always live up to his hype but that instrumental bit still gives me goosebumps, just giant, glittering and upliftingly positive. I have to stop now for fear of a gay aneurism.
10 Get outta my way – You need something special to follow that, otherwise the sudden drop in fabulousness would give you ‘The Bends’. Luckily they have thought of this, and we have the surefire #1 album-saving Get outta my way. Well that was the plan anyway. I don’t know what went wrong, I think maybe we have to get used to the fact that Kylie is not a mainstream artist like she was 5 (?) years ago, and we can’t expect another campaign like Fever with such certainty. But let’s forget that, this is another amazing track. I wasn’t sold on the video really, but the song is irresistible. I wonder how I will feel in 5 years, as the few weeks of overplay when this was out detracted from it slightly. But after a little break this is still magnificent. Just a 10 where All the lovers was an unofficial 11.
07 Put your hands up (if you feel love) – I don’t know why but I took an early dislike to this song. I think it was that thing she does when she sings, “placeehhhs”, “faceehhhs”, just really bugs me. But these days I’ve mellowed out a bit, and once this gets going it’s a decent (but rather generic) dance track. The choruses are the best bits naturally, I don’t think too much about the verses, there’s not much to them. But the choruses ARE good.
08 Closer – Rather mysterious-sounding from the intro, shades of You Thrill Me/Erotica from the Confessions tour, which is by no means a bad thing. Saves me from worrying too much about a bog-standard dance album at least, by showing that at least some of the creativity that went into X (however misguided) is still alive and well. It has a rather strange structure to it, I can’t quite decide why, maybe it’s just the spooky futuristic production.
07 Everything is beautiful – Taking the tempo down now, which is a welcome change. Not a ballad either, maybe I’ll never be satisfied, but it’s a bit of a drag in places. The verses are much more interesting than the choruses I think. Something just isn’t quite firing off the way I want it to. The middle-8 is alright but it’s all a bit indulgent and skippable.
09 Aphrodite – OH now this is a bit more like it. Teetering on the brink of hot mess but I think it’s just about safe. Clearly pegged as an anthemic title track to explain the whole feeling behind this album, but in that it feels a bit calculated. Luckily the song itself is pretty amazing too, I found it a bit naff to start with, particularly the chorus. I mean Kylie’s not the sort of person you’d ever describe as fierce, so I’d rather her not try to make it sound like she is. I’m in two minds with it, but it is catchy and the tempo is back to where it should be.
06 Illusion – Hmm not really getting into this one. that beepy motif throughout is memorable but the song isn’t really there, so whenever I hear that beepy bit my heart sinks a little bit. The song’s a bit of a nonstarter, it’s adequate but the chorus is barely notable. Actually that’s all I have to say about this!
09 Better than today – So here was the big gamble. Get Outta My Way didn’t hit the target, so it was time for a Plan B, a surprisingly reactive move for the hapless record label. But this has divided opinion too, and the hope was that this would at least milk a few more sales out of the album. I didn’t like this much to start with, though I didn’t need to be told that THIS was the Nerina Pallot track, it’s got her name written through it like a stick of rock. This majorly grew on me though, and the performances and video seemed to mesh well with the song. Hate the middle 8, for the record, but that squeaky hook throughout the intro and chorus have really got me liking it. A total disaster sales-wise in the end, and was a bullet in the head of this shaky campaign. Oops.
08 Too much – Throwing a lot into this one, squelchy electronic noises and a busy bridge synth-wise. I quite like it really, feels like rather generic dance but at least it sounds like it’s from this year. It’s a pretty relentless track, and while it sounds like someone else’s track featuring Kylie, that’s not necessarily a bad thing now I’m listening to it.
09 Cupid Boy – Love that electric guitar intro & outro, gives an interesting feeling to this track. All the sections really sit well together, the bridge blends wonderfully into that punchy chorus (does she really sing “and your feet’s so dirty”?). The verses are understated enough to give a good climax when the choruses come along but they are good in their own way. The more I think about it, I feel like this is one of my favourites from the album.
06 Looking for an angel – A very… cloudbusting intro, n’est pas? I just don’t get on with this, I have noted on a few occasions so far that some of these songs sound too generic but this really takes the biscuit, it’s just a lot of BLAH BLAH. That chorus just does nothing for me at all, not even the bit that sounds like Glee’s Don’t Stop Believing.
08 Can’t beat the feeling – Well not exactly the highest note to go out on, and another faceless track that feels like it came straight off the Ministry of Sound Summer Annual 2004. It’s better than the previous track, in fact it’s not that bad. But this album just teases with you with moments where they really got this sound JUST right, then leave you unfulfilled with stuff like this. I’ll be nice though, this IS quite catchy even if I don’t always remember it. I might just be being too harsh by this point, if it was an unknown artist I’d probably like it a lot more.
So that’s that. Personally, I see what they were trying to do here, not that THAT requires any kind of insight, and by and large they made a good job of it. There were enough amazing songs for a half-decent singles campaign, and overall quality that didn’t make me feel ripped off. The public aren’t quite engaging with it, so they’ll have to think what to do next quite carefully. After all, what do you do when your foolproof solution doesn’t quite do what you hoped? It’s not a flop by any means, but commercially it has been disappointing. But as I said at the start, for me it has learnt lessons from X without losing the amazing moments, so that’s progress to me.
Keepers for the iPod: All the lovers, Get outta my way, Aphrodite, Better than today, Too much, Cupid Boy, Can’t beat the feeling.