Posts Tagged ‘Kylie Minogue’

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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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another dream.

August 23, 2009

If you know me, you know that I quite often have very strange dreams.  This is the third vivid one I’ve had this week, after one where my French assistant from university, Anna Winterstein, had come to take me to France in her truck with her boyfriend, except we drove through Clifton to get to Moscow, and from Moscow we were going to drive to France in this truck.  Dreams ≠ logic.  And the worst part was that in the dream, Anna Winterstein was a murderer and a child molester, having slept with a 15yo girl in one of her classes (this is clearly taken from an article I’d been reading in the Metro during the day, where a female music teacher had been convicted of the exact same thing); I pleaded with my dad not to send me with her, but he wouldn’t listen!

Then, I had another dream also set in Moscow (added scenes set in St. Petersburg) where me and my father had to pick up all the rubbish off the streets.  I don’t know why I have been so fixated on Russia in my dreams lately, I’m not reading anything to do with Russia, and I haven’t really come into contact with anything Russian over the last few days.  But last night’s dream was not related to Russia, but instead had elements from Italy and Spain, combined with Bristol (of course).

I was at home with Dad and it transpired that I was supposed to be on holiday in Italy somewhere, but we’d come home for a couple of days in the middle of the holiday for a break from the holiday.  However, I was secretly going to sneak away back to Italy.  Me and my friend Tom Main (from school, I haven’t seen him for years) were on the patio outside, and we had to distract our next door neighbour Julie so that I could get inside and pack my suitcase and leave without her seeing.  We looked through the gap in the breeze block (which was in the pattern of a flower) and then we started singing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” in eerie high squeaky voices.  Sure enough, Julie came out of the house next door and into the garden to investigate.  We crept back inside out house and I went to start packing my things.  Then Tom Main disappeared and my other friend from school Flick Waite (again, not seen or spoken to her in years!) appeared in the front driveway.  She asked me if I was ready to go, and I said I wouldn’t be a minute, just packing my suitcase.  My dad was sat in the lounge and I decided to tell him upfront that I was going, he said “fine, if that was what I wanted to do”.  I went upstairs to my room to pack my things, and I was folding up my blankets from the bed and packing my phone charger and some cds and things, and I remember thinking I had to hurry because otherwise Flick would go without me.  She called my phone after 15 minutes and asked where I was, I said that I would be down in a minute.  I shoved more things into a suitcase and then ran down the stairs and realised I had forgotten to pack any clothes, but then that all the clothes I needed would be back in the wardrobe in Italy.  I went outside to meet Flick, and we got in a taxi and disappeared.

The next thing I remember is being in a car with my dad and Nonna, driving to a Spanish airport (I think it was Spanish because the scenery reminded me of Spain).  We were in a race against time so that we didn’t miss our flight, and also because I had the vague idea another car was chasing us.  My dad was explaining the different routes we could take as he drove, and he said that it was good to go the way we were going because we could drive any direction we liked.  The motorway was gridlocked but then suddenly two parallel tunnels appeared, a round one and a square one.  My dad explained that we were lucky because we could go through either one of them.  We drove into the square tunnel, and it turned into a computer game where we had to navigate twists and chicanes and avoid crashing into the walls.  The tunnel underground was made of beige square paving slabs.  Occasionally, there would be a car (it was like a sporty sleek red stock racing car) moving slowly towards us, but we would drive around it and eventually we made it out of the tunnel and to the airport, which was on a boat (!) in a harbour.  We got out of the car, and ran onto the boat and looked around duty free (there was an M&S) while we waited for the plane.

Then I don’t know what happened to the airport but I was at my godmother Margaret’s house, and she was looking through old photos which were up on a big slide projector on the wall.  I don’t know why, but she started laughing and joking about something, and I thought it was at me.  She told me not to be so silly, but I was convinced that she thought I was stupid for some reason in the photo, so I started sulking and eventually I went home.  Mum and Dad were at home, and I sat at the table with Mum, where we had a brief conversation.  Mum asked me if I remembered the Christmas where we both went shopping and bought Mariah Carey perfume.  I said yes, but then I hid my wrist under the table because I was wearing a different perfume and I didn’t want her to know.  So I changed the subject and told them about Margaret making fun of me and how upset I was, because I felt that she wasn’t respecting me as an adult.  Dad was sat in his chair watching tv, and told me not to be so stupid, and that older relatives are allowed to tease you when they want.  Mum told me to ignore him and said she understood how I felt, and not to take it personally because there was nothing wrong with me and I did not overreact.  I walked up to Dad in his armchair and I realised that his arm and his foot were deformed, like a thalidomide baby.  He looked quite grumpy and tried to get me and mum to shut up so he could watch his programme on tv.  I woke up a couple of times, drifted off, reminisced about parts of the dream and tried to make sure i would remember it when I finally woke up properly.

If anyone can shed any light on what any of this dream might mean, go for it!  Because honestly, I have no idea 😉