Kylie Minogue strides toward pop goddess — finally — with ‘Aphrodite’
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
3.5 out of 5 stars
Yes, Kylie Minogue is a bigger star around the world than she is here. In the U.S., she’s always been in the shadows of established pop queens, princesses and divas. Perhaps she has stayed relevant due to her many gay fans, but Aphrodite might finally push her over the music hurdle.
Minogue has been known for reliable for bouncy dance confections of little substance. Her lyrics are pedestrian at best and the sound, while enjoyable and certainly danceable lacked depth. You couldn’t take her too seriously.
But with the opening track “All the Lovers,” while her sound is still simple dance music, it’s finally caught up with the times. A strong introduction with a heavy bass line and beat sets the tone for the next few tracks. It immediately feels like a new and improved Kylie.
The beat goes on and the next two songs have as much tidal energy as the first. “Put Your Hands Up” is the tune every dance album wants to have — and every gay boy’s dancefloor dream. The anthemic quality harkens to Madonna’s “Spotlight” way back when.
At 42, Minogue should take on more of a woman’s role, but she still sings from a girl’s perspective on “Cupid Boy.” Minogue is what Britney has to look forward to, but here that’s not a bad thing. She’s saved by the beautiful and throbbing dance beats and stellar production, even if it’s merely glossy. The album succeeds in taking listeners away into dance euphoria.
Far from a ballad, “Everything is Beautiful” gives a break from the high energy but it doesn’t let up from the album’s intention. Minogue’s collaborations signal a declaration to make a stronger impression this time. “Beautiful” feels like a bridge to the latter half of the album as she amps it up again with the title track.
Everything is on target with “Aphrodite” — it has the hook, the beat and the confidence. By this sixth track, Minogue’s delivery is ferocious. She leaves behind her past work — good and bad — and shows off her makeover proudly as if she were on Oprah.
Jake Shears and previous collaborator Calvin Harris add heavy layers in “Too Much,” but never take away from Minogue’s sound. Somehow, she avoids sounding like Scissor Sisters or Keane or anyone else despite all the influential musical partners working on this album. That’s an impressive feat. But like Scissor Sisters’ current Night Work, uber-pop producer Stuart Price’s magic pop touch is all over this album as producer and songwriter.
Because the album, her 11th, wants only to dance the night away, it hardly derails. The weakest moment comes toward the end at the penultimate track “Looking For an Angel.” Despite a catchy opener, the track is a too cutesy.
Minogue and company seem to know these songs aren’t epic; that the pulsing beats can begin to wear down listeners not tweaked out at 2 a.m. But the album plays out in just 43 minutes, and after it’s over, it’s worth a repeat listen.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 9, 2010.