Posts Tagged ‘Curious’

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Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite. (album review)

June 27, 2010

Aphrodite marks Kylie Minogue’s 11th studio album, and the general attitude is that this is the Australian star’s comeback album following her battle with breast cancer, after the scattershot effort of previous project X. Not only did X not allude to her personal life and struggles (to many fans’ dismay), it seemed determined to overlook them; however, the genre-hopping and quality rollercoaster displeased many listeners.  This is not to take away from the album’s strongpoints; for the gigantic misses of glam-rock lead single “2 Hearts” and the tepid, forgettable “No More Rain”, there were hits such as the excellently addictive “In My Arms” and the sensuous “Sensitized”, not to mention the beautiful closing lightweight ballad “Cosmic”.  X was a frustrating listen not because it ignored Kylie’s personal foibles but because it didn’t know where its head was at, and fired off moments of sheer brilliance and then of complete twaddle seemingly at will.  It’s true that in contrast to that album, Aphrodite is cohesive, focused and honed to target the fibrillating emotional dance-pop that so pleases the radio and Kylie’s gay fanbase.

Aphrodite bears much in common with that other Kylie comeback record, Fever.  Both are love letters to the dance floor, where the tempo and beats are relentless, while Kylie purrs over the top at once calculated and lascivious.  Both are pure pop, and neither of them take enough risks to stand with Kylie’s best albums: the daring, creative zenith of Impossible Princess or the seductive Body Language that was comprised of songs that were so off-kilter and curious that it was a pleasant surprise just how well the songs worked both individually and as a whole.  Nevertheless, Aphrodite aims to please, and on lead single “All The Lovers”, Kylie does just that with a lyric that pleads simultaneously for love and for the dancefloor.  Primed for the radio and for the gays with its pop-dance leanings, Kylie seems to have struck a home run.  However, this song epitomises much of one of my criticisms of Aphrodite as a whole: the sentiments of the lyrics (which are well-written) and the beauty in the melodies (which are often evocative and well-structured) get swallowed up by the uniform pop production of the album.  It at once unifies the record and smooths out most of its interesting quirks: if X was too schizophrenic, Kylie has gone too far the other way with Aphrodite to create a record that is too homogenous.  Like Madonna’s Confessions On A Dance Floor, Stuart Price oversees production duties here to melt the songs together into one continuous blur, making the decent songs fight to announce themselves as individuals to the listener’s ear.

With songs such as “All The Lovers”, “Closer” and “Everything Is Beautiful”, this is a problem: for example, “Closer” is structurally and melodically a ballad, fighting against production that wants to make it a bitter dance song.  “Everything Is Beautiful” should be a gentle, sweet ode to the joys of love, but the insistent drum beat transforms the song into an anthemic but ill-fitting upbeat pop song. These identity crises give much of Aphrodite the sense that it is trying too hard to be something it’s not, or that the tracks are not allowed to be themselves.  There are a couple of plain weak tracks: “Better Than Today” sounds entirely like a Scissor Sisters track and Kylie Minogue (who is not credited enough for her vocal and interpretative abilities) sings it in just that way; “Looking For An Angel” is listless filler which once again seems to have earned its spot on the record because it fits in with the overarching feel of the album as a whole.  It’s a shame that unlike on the quirky Body Language where the album’s moments of strangeness worked, a large part of Aphrodite feels like it is a square peg forced into a round hole.

This is especially highlighted when one listens to the songs that do work.  “Get Outta My Way” is a focused, upstanding anthem that takes its 4-to-the-floor beat and runs, creating an exhilarating standout; “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” bears the essence of Fever‘s infectious “Love At First Sight” and is similarly lovely; the title track “Aphrodite” is a statement of self-worth and determination to triumph that totally suits its marching-band beat and lyrics that declare “Did you think I wasn’t real?… I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty / I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite / Alright?” Its confidence and zest spearhead Aphrodite’s most successful moments.  However, “Cupid Boy” is the antithesis of this and still shines; a moody guitar-driven mid-tempo that proves that (unlike the aforementioned “Closer”) it certainly is possible to successfully deliver an emotionally-charged ballad-esque track while still keeping the overarching dance feel of the album intact.  Closer “Can’t Beat The Feeling” is one of the album’s poppiest moments, but its embrace of its own cheesiness is almost delightful, with Kylie’s vocal delivery transforming throwaway candy-floss lyrics such as “Feel the force of the reaction / Let it take you on a ride /… I can’t beat the feeling that I get when I’m with you” into a delirious proclamation of love.

Overall, Aphrodite caters to its target group, but a little too efficiently.  Some songs feel like they’ve been forced to be what they’re not, a couple seem to be present only by dint of the fact that they musically sound like Kylie Minogue tracks – facsimiles of songs rather than songs in their own right.  But at least half of the album works, and when the individual elements of Aphrodite react successfully and the songs stand up with the help of the production rather than being strapped down by it, the results are impressive.  I enjoyed this album more than I expected to, and it marks one step closer to a return to form for Minogue… even if she’s not quite at her peak.

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i, love

August 25, 2009

I love… Trey Songz’ new album.  You already know that I am feeling LeToya’s Lady Love (read the review here), and you can add Trey Songz’ Ready to that list.  A step up from his previous Trey Day (which in turn was a step up from his debut), there are plenty of standout tracks such as the single “I Need A Girl”, the urgent “Black Roses”, the epic closer “Yo Side Of The Bed” (which really reminds me of Prince’s “Purple Rain” at the beginning and in certain places where the guitar kicks in) and the ridiculously silly and yet chirpily addictive “LOL 🙂 “.  I guess I am a slave to Soulja Boy – it is my ringtone already.  Listen to it and enchant yourself… (maybe that is the wrong word but you’ll see what I mean!)  But it’s a really impressive, solid album, with great vocals from Trey, nice production throughout.  Dude is the new R. Kelly, for sure.

I don’t love… being fooled.  By now I should know better, I really really should.  Basically, I was on the dating site and I noticed that R was online.  So I clicked on him out of curiosity, and his profile basically said “In Birmingham on the 25th, at such and such hotel, looking for a horny 18-25 yo guy for fun times.”  I was like “OKAAAAY… so do you have a boyfriend or not?  And if so, where the fuck is he?” (Certainly not in Birmingham.)  Either R is a liar or he is a cheat, and yet for a week I was spinning out thinking how wonderful he was.  Maybe I’m more naïve than I thought.  Maybe his profile got hacked… but that’s really unlikely, and I’m not that naïve.  So I was inspired to write a song called “Delete U”, which I finished the rough edit of today.  Needs a little polishing, but I took that feeling of disappointment and was spurred into creativity, so it can’t be all bad.  And I certainly don’t pine for him anymore, though in honesty I haven’t pined for him for a couple of weeks now.  It’s just surprising when you think you connect with somebody and then you find out that they are a whole other person.  Not good for my judgment of character. :S

I love… the new Prada L’eau Ambrée.  I came across it in Debenhams today (during a reasonably successful shopping trip, which involved worshipping at the altars of Britney Spears and Zara), smelled it and felt love.  Love for the utterly sophisticated black and gold bottle.  Love for the sexy blonde model in the ad copy.  And most of all, love for the soft amber-floral-cream fragrance.  I am going to return to Debenhams tomorrow for another smell.  All the while repeating to myself “I must not buy it, I must not buy it, I must not buy it…”

I don’t love… wishing I were constantly somewhere else.  I said in my previous post that I had travelled to various exotic locations in my dreams, but I really wish that I could just run away to Milan, to Marbella, to Brazil, to Hawaii, to New York… and start a new life.  I have goals that I want to achieve while I’m here in Bristol, such as: getting my Careers Guidance qualification, getting my driving licence, moving out, getting a sixpack, getting a hot boyfriend, dressing head-to-toe in Gucci.  But some of these are more likely than others, and I hope that by the age of 30 I will be set up in one of these countries.  I don’t know why, but I have never felt at home in England.  I don’t feel the slightest twinge of patriotism (though I do love my city, Bristol), and my brain tells me that land is land, and a home is what you make it, so I should be able to live anywhere because it’s all the same.  But my emotions and heart cry out for the various places I have listed (most of which I haven’t even visited!) because I can imagine being happy there, or finding certain elements which would fit me a lot more than the awkwardness that Bristol sometimes forces upon me.  Here, I have lots of friends and I know where and how to enjoy myself, but I don’t really fit into or click into a niche, and I would like to find a place where I can do that.  Just maybe.

I love… feeling loved.  My grandmother is off to Italy on Thursday, and even though she really upset me last week with some insensitive comments, this week it’s water under the bridge.  I’m really going to miss her for the 3 weeks that she is away!  My mother and I have been getting on really well lately, and I don’t feel closer to anyone than her, even though there are a lot of things that I don’t wish to tell her at times.  My closest friends are either living in other cities, travelling about the country / continent, or preparing for new faraway opportunities, but yet I am glad for each of them and hold them dear to me.  And even if it’s just in my dreams, the sweet kisses and loving embraces of Thore Schölermann / Rafael Verga / random indie DVD cashiers keep me warm and make me feel like maybe that could one day happen in reality, just like a fairytale. A really, really sexy fairytale. Who knows… we live in reality, but it doesn’t mean that dreams don’t come true.  If it’s rare, it means that it happens, and hopefully it’ll happen to me.  As always, when it does, you’re gonna be some of the first to know!  Thankyou for reading once again, take it easy 🙂

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10 things.

August 22, 2009

Since I don’t really know what to write, and I’ve had a pretty uneventful day (that’s what happens when you spend most of it on the sofa – I think my fatigue is nearly gone though 😀 ), I thought I would just make a quick list of 10 thoughts or things that I haven’t necessarily learned today, but that have returned to mind or made themselves evident today.

1.  Apparently, my mother standing on my laptop is appropriate recompense for my threatening to take a picture of her.

2.  My father has an intense and somewhat irrational dislike of Eminem and the Black Eyed Peas.

3.  Good films on dvd never go on sale quickly enough.

4.  Your hometown is the best, most comforting place when you’re somewhere else.  As soon as you’re back there, it’s claustrophobic and overly familiar, and you want to break out all over again.

5.  According to the return of X Factor and the continuation of Big Brother, reality tv makes the world go round.  Not only is it recession-friendly, but it somehow hypnotises 95% of the population and destroys their remaining brain cells.  Am I really the only one who finds those kinds of programmes irredeemably tacky???

6.  There are not enough sexy men in my life.

7.  Everyone must have come back from summer holidays because suddenly my blog is getting lots of views again like it used to! (There was a two-week lull.)  Thanks y’all 🙂

8.  As much as we chastise celebrity fragrances for being tacky, not realising that Armani, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and lots of other brands pay perfumers to manufacture perfumes for their brands in the exact same way and with the exact same lack of input, I still want to buy myself a new bottle of Britney Spears Curious.

9.  Beyoncé has the power to make my father’s voice (and his criticisms and jokes) inaudible to my ears.

10.  Fashions may change, the world may evolve and people may be born, live and die each day, but love will always remain one of the constant cruxes of the human race.