(ArjanWrites.com guest blogger Marc Andrews listened to Kylie Minogue's entire, much-anticipated new album "X" in Sydney yesterday. Exclusively for ArjanWrites.com, he shares his thoughts about Kylie's new work. Marc is a music writer based in Australia.)
A lot has happened to Kylie Minogue during the last few years, and most of it hasn't in any way been related to her music. One thing her tenth album, "X", will remind you though is that when it comes to pop, there's only a handful who can match the 39-year-old's track record for consistency over 20 years.
With Minogue's somewhat disappointing last album, 2003's "Body Language", she second-guessed a swerve towards a sleeker, more R&B-inspired sound, which didn't sit so comfortably with her pop heritage and also floundered due to its generally dull, workmanlike songs. Clearly with "X" Team Kylie has realised where she fits best into the music mosaic is when she's handed an uptempo track, compete with killer chorus, to embody a sexiness that appears neither contrived nor forced.
There are obvious parallels here to Madonna's "Confessions Of A Dance Floor" from 2005, which raided the best of 70s disco for a sparkling update that sold bucketloads and reinstated Mads as the Queen of Pop. Minogue, who's often toyed with darker, quirkier material ( e.g. "Slow", "Confide In Me", or even her whole "Impossible Princess" album from a decade ago), opts on "X" to step back in time for an early 80s retro-electro vibe. Well, it is better the devil you know, after all, so to speak.
Lead single and album starter "2 Hearts" ups the catchy ante with its stomping glam rock-meets-Goldfrapp posturing, complete with brain-hugging "woo-hoo-hoo" bits.
The other 12 "X" tracks generally appear to be a result of a slightly malfunctioning time machine that planned to land in 1984 somewhere between Madonna's debut and "Like A Virgin " albums, but since been abducted by "new romantic" alien life forms sprouting early Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Eurythmics.
Track two, "Like A Drug", borrows heavily from Visage's 1981 classic "Fade To Grey" and seems like a natural successor to the magnificence of "2 Hearts". "Wow" (not a cover of the Kate Bush classic) gives more than a friendly nod to Madonna's "Holiday" though overlaid with a plenty of modern day studio trickery. "Speakerphone" from Bloodshy & Avant, is Madonna's "Lucky Star" stuck in a blender with Cher's "Believe". That's a good thing, by the way. Hipster muso of the moment, Calvin Harris, gets even more acceptable in the 80s by producing "Heart Beat Rock", which could easily have fallen off his own album.