Kylie is truly great. From the self-titled 1994 Deconstruction album onwards, there have been considerably more hits than misses. ‘Fever’, ‘Body Language’ and ‘Aphrodite’ were all awash with stone cold classic melodies and the sort of meticulous production that ensures they haven’t dated in the way plenty of hugely successful pop can. When you’re as good at this as Kylie is, you know how to get it right. Her live shows evolve the songs to capture the zeitgeist in a fashion on a par with the Pet Shop Boys. If you need convincing, listen to the re-work of ‘On A Night Like This’ from the ‘Aphrodite Les Folies’ tour and how it segues into ‘All The Lovers’ at its conclusion. Euphoric.
Recent projects have included an acoustic and string-driven catalogue reimagining at Abbey Road, a pretty impeccable Christmas record and a country-pop album that had its moments. What’s really noticeable is the creative restlessness that is prompting some wonderful music. There have been missteps too but anyone who writes Kylie off, just assuming they know what her music sounds like, runs the risk of missing out.
As ever, we start with an irresistible one-listen-and-you-know-it-inside-out banger. ‘Magic’ is not one that will emerge too proudly from much lyrical scrutiny but it has a chorus melody to cherish. ‘Monday Blues’ joins the list of catchy countdowns of the days of the week, with subject matter that is entirely revealed in its two word title. Crucially, the emphatically chic, or Chic perhaps, guitar motifs around the chorus are a delight.
The initial teaser ‘Say Something’ is a fine bridge from ‘Golden’ with an electronic hook that, while re-cast to maximum disco, wouldn’t have been out of place in that record’s surrounds. Here, it’s a mid-paced shimmy that does that hugely addictive nearly-but-not-quite-exploding moment several times before, having pleaded “can we all be as one again?”, reaching a compromise where all of the different bits of the song combine for an uplifting final passage.
Side two opens with ‘Last Chance’, full on late-period Abba, while ‘I Love It’ takes the rapidly sweeping, genre-appropriate strings route to enlivening a slightly less robust chorus. A similar formula is deployed on ‘Where Does The DJ Go?’ where the frenetic rhythm evokes the delirious freedom of ‘Light Years’. ‘Dance Floor Darling’ defies the burden of its title and throws pretty much everything into the mix, including half of Daft Punk’s act.
The main album concludes with ‘Celebrate You’ – “everything I like about myself is better with you” – an emphatic, piano-driven belter with a trademark higher-register chorus. It resists the temptation for yet another ending where the beat drops out and the last few words of the vocal are slathered in reverb and just fades merrily, as if the party were still going on somewhere. In this year of all years, that nod to a collective experience is very welcome. That it should be this good is a genuine treat.
(It might be useful to know that it has a very well mastered and cut vinyl release too, which is certainly appreciated. I do wish BMG were more consistent in that regard.)