Kiss Me Once
Ever the chameleon – perhaps even outdoing Madonna in the image-changing territory – the evergreen Australian popstrel Kylie Minogue has once more completed her time-honoured trick of picking up the latest cool producers, fashionable sounds and songwriters of the moment for her 12th album, Kiss Me Once.
On the roster are Pharrell Williams, Sia, Giorgio Moroder and Cutfather, among others. But in spite of that spectrum of pop talent, this is an album that feels disappointingly monothematic – and that single theme is EDM, the relentlessly pounding bane of the charts today. She might as well have thrown in Avicii, Axwell and Armin van Buuren for good measure.
Of course, this means that it is likely the most generic of these songs will be on your radio and on the dance floor for months to come, with only Minogue’s famous voice to distinguish them from a Katy Perry or a Miley Cyrus. And after all, four-to-the-floor dance music is what Minogue does best. It’s what we expect of her and it’s what keeps her albums selling in the millions.
The difference here is that it feels like she is late to the party. Unlike those albums that set the dance agenda – Fever, for example, or even Body Language – Kiss Me Once is based on styles that are already starting to sound tired after a couple of summers of banging beats and euphoric drops.
Minogue inspires enough goodwill and affection to be able to carry it off and the tracks are nothing if not slickly produced, albeit not as memorable as some of her previous works. Million Miles, Into the Blue (the first single), Feels So Good, the awful vocoder of her duet with Enrique Iglesius, Beautiful, and the bouncy floor-filler Fine – all do the job.
Luckily there are moments of excellence here, reminders of Minogue's singular magic. The pounding chant of Les Sex, the joyful bounce of the title track Kiss Me Once, which could almost be an update of one of her Stock Aitken Waterman tracks, and the funky Daft Punkish guitar of Sexy Love are all standouts. And, perhaps inevitably, it is Pharrell who brings out what feels like a true version of Minogue: I Was Gonna Cancel is confident, quirky, full of the brilliant synth-pop sounds that make her shine and with neat, catchy beats that only he can bring. Could album 13 see a full collaboration between the pair? We should be so lucky.