Fierce and Mighty: Kylie’s ‘Aphrodite’ (Alright!)
(PARLOPHONE) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
WHEN Kylie released her last studio album, 2007’s “X”, it wasn’t exactly the homecoming people were expecting. X had some great singles and a few proper stormers but its lack of creative cohesion left the final tracklisting looking incredibly lazy, leaving Ms Minogue with an album of songs that just didn’t quite sound like something she had even convinced herself to sing, let alone convinced us to listen to. It wasn’t terrible, but it was a bit of a mess.
“Aphrodite” sees Minogue lifting her game and pumping out what will probably end up being one of her Top 2 best records to date. It sounds like a Kylie album from start to finish, one that has fast-grown into one of the most accomplished and exciting long players she’s put out, and the only completely dud-free record in her discography.
Working with Stuart Price (Madonna’s “Confessions On A Dance Floor”) was a move that the Scissor Sisters Jake Shears insisted Kylie embark on. The results are – in most places – breathtaking, but the ones that aren’t are, still, at the very least incredibly enjoyable. For the record, it’s not as good as “Confessions” was, but fuck me – it’s bloody close.
From the euro-blizzard opening of first single “All The Lovers” (whose Spanish version, “Los Amores”, could have probably won Eurovision this year had Minogue entered it), to next single, the jealousy-driven tour-de-force and made-for-radio “Get Outta My Way”, Aphrodite packs dance floor punches with big impact. Particular album highlight “Cupid Boy” probably packs the records biggest club-friendly bassline, with a driving guitar-fuelled riff that sits magically with the pounding beats enveloping it. It’s also, alongside “All The Lovers”, the most incredible moment on here lyrically.
Perhaps a personal best however arrives in the form of the records title track, a big and bold moment where Kylie announces she’s “fierce and feeling mighty, I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite, Alright!” This should be the third single; it’s exactly the kind of comeback single people were, maybe, hoping “2 Hearts” was going to be.
Songs like “Illusion” and “Better Than Today” (not ballads, but they’re not exactly going to incite the rebirth of Studio 54 either) have copped a bit of flack in various reviews I’ve read over the last couple of weeks but – of course – they’re two of my absolute favourites. “Illusion” – written solely by Kylie and Price – comes with an excellent Middle 8 and could very well be a great choice for a mid-tempo single to break down the thumping themes of the records other moments. It’s definitely the sweetest sounding moment on Aphrodite. “Better Than Today” probably houses the records best Middle 8, though. Amazing talky-bit alert!! “Everything Is Beautiful”, co-written by Keane’s Tim Rice-Oxley, follows suit in the mid-tempo ballad stakes, and wonderfully so. A very precious Kylie moment.
The pace is generally quite upbeat though, and Aprhodite bangs pretty hard throughout. Stuff like “Closer” (which is like Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” having a child to Kylie’s “Confide In Me” at The Monster Ball), “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” and “Can’t Beat The Feeling” all play an important part in making Aphrodite a true celebration (ho ho!) from start to finish.
Both “Too Much” and “Looking For An Angel” are lovely enough, but they’re the only two tracks that made me feel as though Kylie’s voice had been lost in production. That’s not to say these aren’t good songs, but Xenomania-written b-sides “Heartstrings” and “Mighty Rivers” would have been better inclusions on the record – two tracks which are fast becoming my favourite Kylie moments from the Aphrodite-era.
This sounds like a classic Kylie album; there are moments on here which will forever be immortalised into the pop-world psyche, and I honestly think her choice to make a fun, glossy and danceable pop record is more than welcome in a time where gloom and doom seems to be a top priority; there’s no hidden agenda here, no hidden political punches, it’s just a fantastic Kylie album that’s going to make you smile, sing and – hopefully – dance. It’s a return to the really refined moments of “Fever”, which now may have to settle for being her second greatest achievement.
I think the problem people are having with Aphrodite is that it might come across as being a little devoid of Kylie’s personality. But where ‘X’ failed in feeling like it was really hers, ‘Aphrodite’ at least sounds like music she actually really wants to be making. I think peoples expectations of Kylie, particularly in this country, are of such a high standard that it’s hard for her to match them at times. Want want want, people want this or that from Kylie, pulling her one way or the other; it’s any wonder she’s hinting at retirement – surely there comes a point when even Kylie Minogue throws her hands up and says “Fuck this and fuck you all, I’m retiring to a cottage, smoking pot and baking cakes for the rest of my life.” I don’t want that, and I can tell that you don’t either.
More importantly, I don’t think Kylie wants that either.
Go and buy Aphrodite for Gods sake.