Album review: Kylie Minogue - Aphrodite
Kylie figured she'd try and go a little different with her X album, and it backfired in a hail of badly chosen singles and dismissal from fans (the honest ones. Not those delusional ones who front like that album was actually good). So Kylie knew she'd have to put it right with the follow up, and enlisted the help of Stuart Price to do it. Why Stuart Price? Well, why not?! After all, he was the man responsible for making Madonna do decent pop again with Confessions on a dance floor.
The pop wagon rolls in with "All the lovers", which sounds like Kylie's "I believe in you", only nowhere near as good. The song serves its purpose of being light, breezy and just about catchy enough; but it's too bland. It's not that big pop record you really want from Kylie. The whole song just sounds like it was geared towards being Kylie's safety net after "2 hearts" had a bitch free fall into a gator infested swamp (the general consensus on that song was nobody really liked it that much) - which is fair enough. The song is okay until you hear the rest of the album and realize this is actually the weakest song on it, and that every other song on Aphrodite would have made a better first single.
With the second track, the album truly begins. "Get outta my way" has single scrawled all over it in Kylie's blood and a black Sharpie pen. The song is a pop banger and certified hit. It should have opened the album in my opinion. Then again the album truly starts with this track, so it makes no difference really. As much as I love this song, I'm a little pissed that the full length track doesn't give more than the Aphrodite megamix clip did. It's possibly because the hook is so amazing that nothing else either side of it was ever going to match up to it. But as great as the song is, there's a definite feeling something is missing. At the end of the album sits "Can't beat the feeling" which is is like a direct second parter to Kylie's ever popular 2002 hit "Love at first sight". It's not as explosive and as insta-hit worthy as "Get outta my way", but it is a hot song and a great way to close the album on a high. Kylie even throws in a couple of R&B style riffs and runs which sound really hot and had me wish she'd try it a little more. With pop gold at both ends of the album Aphrodite is already flipping birds at X and Body language.
Throwback and euphoria is a huge part of Aphrodite. And "Put your hands up (if you feel love)" and "Too much" could not be any more euphoric and hedonistic if they came bundled with free pills, a laser pen and some sweaty topless guy. Both songs feature verses which serve as progressive builds to set you up for the crack that is the hook, and command you act a fool and put some hands in the air. The great thing about these songs is that despite all of the over production and studio trickery, Kylie's vocals are still at the forefront; possibly more so than the lesser club heavy songs. Both songs act as great after dark, skankier cousins to the white pop purity of "Get outta my way" and "Can't beat the feeling".
Stuart Price's productions have occasionally reminded me of ABBA, and this was even before he catapulted Madgina to the top of charts worldwide with "Hung up". His productions can have a very prominent dark underlying tone, which contrast with the pop gloss his songs are finished off with. "Closer" drives this home in a pick-up truck and then 3-point turns in the road with it. The song is very dark, yet shimmering; beautifully haunting. The song works well, even if it does sound like a left over from Confessions on a dance floor. The other Stuart Price productions "Illusion", "Cupid boy" and "Looking for an angel" all fall into the same heap too. As great as Stuart Price's influence on Aphrodite as a whole is, his sole produced efforts pale in comparison to Aphrodite's remaining songs, and don't do much to separate themselves from his work on his effort with Madgina. I definitely could have done with an extra offering from Cutfather and Calvin Harris in place of a couple of his productions.
Kylie wasn't able to ditch her R&B- kind-of-but-not-really curiosity which she ran into a brick wall with on Body language. And "Everything is beautiful" is Kylie's attempt at trying to get a 2-steps out of at least two n***a's in the club. The song sounds like a really bad rip off of Madonna's "Dance 2 nite", which in turn sounded like a horrendous shafting of a Bee Gee's track. And Tim Rice-Oxley's lyrics also layer the song with this 'Keane feel'. The song isn't flat out terrible, and within the scheme of the album it does work. It's not a track I'd find myself voluntarily skipping to; but it's still better than "All the lovers", half the songs on X, the whole of Body language and Madgina, Timberlake and Timbaland's wreck of a song.
If Kylie wanted to get paid with some commercial tie in's, then she could do it easy with the album title track "Aphrodite". This song was made to feature in a women's deodorant and razor commercial. Every time I listen to the song I just see skinny air brushed legs, armpits and water splashing everywhere whilst a satin curtain blows in the wind. It's other half "Better than today" is an anthem for working women rocking maxi pads. Kylie has two great songs for women's hygiene right here, which makes them even better. Parlephone need to speak to some people, make shit happen and get Kylie those Gillette, Palmolive and Always ultra cheques.
So is Aphrodite better than X? Yes. Is it pop perfection? Well, not really. The songs which are good are f**king amazing. Kylie has had so many notable, iconic hits over the course of her career that it's nothing short of a feat that she's still able to knock out a couple more. But there are moments on the album where the quality does dip. The sound on the album isn't as consistent as say Confessions on a dance floor, but the focus is the same - which is what makes this album work, and the tracks do flow nicely. And unlike Madgina's Stuart Price produced effort which had a bitch ruin solid productions with dead pan vocal deliveries void of any soul, and spouting socially conscious nonsense; Kylie doesn't give a shit about nobody's conscience and the trappings of fame. She just wants you sweated out with somebody else's tongue down your throat by the end of the album. And how could you not love that!?
It's a shame the likes of "In your arms" and "Wow" weren't locked in a vault and kept from X - because they would have made Aphrodite a little bit killer and had some fans' heads explode. But as the album stands it's still strong. Kylie sounds like she genuinely had fun recording this album and there's a glow in her voice which I've not heard since Fever - which this album sits pretty nicely next to in terms of its sound, and was clearly an album which was looked to during the forming of this one.
Kylie may have let a fair few fans down with X. But she's really sorry, and Aphrodite is the best apology she could have given.
■ Get outta the way ★ J's fave
■ Put your hands up (If you feel love)
■ Too much
■ Can't beat the feeling