Released by Parlaphone
To die-hard Kylie Minogue fans, the Australian nu-disco diva can do no wrong. That’s a bold stance for dance music but, really, apart from a (likely) label-initiated plunge into more contemporary, urban-format waters, Minogue hasn’t missed a stroke. Her return to electro-pop form on Aphrodite–Minogue’s 11th studio record in 23 years–is on point, maybe even better, than much of her discography. The likely culprit? Executive producer Stuart Price who, among other high profile projects, is responsible for Madonna’s strobe light opus Confessions On A Dancefloor.
Of course, Price can’t take all the credit. The old Minogue glitters and croons all over the record’s 12 tracks, seducing you with exuberance. Her ability to make danceable, singable, praiseworthy pop is pretty remarkable in its effortlessness and rivals some of the world’s best performers; it’s just that North America still hasn’t figured it out. There’s something to be said about Minogue’s ability to make typically self-indulgent and frothy dance music relatable and redemptive.
This arc plays out on first single “All The Lovers,” which hides melancholic harmonies behind a pulsing bass linelike an electric elegy. She gets bold on the updated disco cut “Get Outta My Way,” abandoning the usual sex kitten winsomeness to demand respect, but returns to cloying form on the haunting Daft Punk-referencer “Closer.” This segues into slowburner “Everything Is Beautiful,” letting you step out of hyper drive before hitting the military thump of the Nerina Pallot-penned title track, “Better Than Today’s” down home disco, and the Calvin Harris-produced pop fuzz of “Too Much.”
Not quite an album of back-to-back bangers, Aphrodite is what die-hards have waited for since 2002’s dance-pop seminal Fever. The typical Kylie standards like “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” and “Illusion” work in the context of this return-to-form record, but are almost a little too glossy for Minogue’s patented bubblegum vocals. It maintains, and that’s not a complaint: artists who make it this far can only deviate so much before being booed back into form. But hopefully with Aphrodite, Minogue and her crew will get that she has to refine and remix instead of revamping.—Anupa Mistry