Kylie Minogue Kylie MinogueAphrodite
All of us have a Kylie Minogue in our memory: from that carefree young woman who sang “I Should Be So Lucky” (somehow, that was 23 years ago already) to the indie phase when she sang with Nick Cave and was produced by the Manic Street Preachers, without forgetting, of course, her resurrection on the dance floor thanks to “Spinning Around”, the song that brought those short shorts back into fashion as an emblem of eternal youth. Cancer paralysed Kylie for a few months, but she came back three years ago with “X”, even though she made an enormous mistake: who encouraged her to launch a single that’s as anti-gay as “2 Hearts” ? “The One” and “In My Arms” kept it from being a tragedy, although one has to say that as a whole, “X” was solid enough to gain a lot the more you listened to it, and along with “Body Language”, it can be considered one of her most eclectic and risky works. In order to avoid half-stepping -which is always a good reason- Minogue has decided to go back, at age 42, to the days when “Light Years” and “Fever” took her to the top of carefree pop for the masses. If you don’t believe me, listen to “Can’t Beat the Feeling”. Having chosen Stuart Price as the producer for many of the cuts, it’s not easy to keep possible parallels between those albums and this new one out of your mind. Could “Aphrodite” be the worthy successor to Madonna’s “ Confessions on a Dance Floor” ? In the end, as it turns out, the answer is no.
But don’t get discouraged. We’ll always have “All the Lovers”, not only as a masterly opening emphasising two concepts that don’t always go well together, elegance and the mainstream (ask Xtina, who is, still, crying out for some lessons in protocol and how to behave), but also as one of those classic half-times that the Australian has designed to reach a global market. “Aphrodite” would have been really sweet, without a doubt, if there had never been the “Fever” era. Kylie is going to have a hard time beating the media high that she achieved in 2001 with an album that catapulted her once again to the top of low-class pop. In the case at hand, the only inklings of durability that can be found are in the sleepless “Closer” and, especially, in “Cupid Boy”, a song with an instant chorus manufactured for the occasion by Price, Sebastian Ingrosso and Magnus Lidehall that makes us reclaim our star’s ever-ignored sister . With a little luck will the song end up being chosen as a future single? Not even in our dreams, if you take into account that in the final test, “All the Lovers” will have to beat “Get Outta My Way”, the false daughter of “Love at First Sight”, a manoeuvre to ensure that her name is omnipresent on the hit list, although the surprise factor obviously falls by the wayside.
Without the credits in hand, anyone might even think that “Better than Today” was written by Jake Shears –who put on his cowboy boots a few days ago to render homage to it. Nevertheless, the trident of Minogue, Shears and Calvin Harris is to be found on that galloping, euphoric synthesiser track that goes by the title of “Too Much”. Although it’s not brilliant, the cut raises the level of a work that could do without the 90s exercise “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)”, the anodyne “Everything Is Beautiful” written by Tim Rice-Oxley (Keane’s pianist), the failed attempt to copy Madonna’s “Jump” entitled “Illusion”, or the title song of a comeback that will make only her most hardcore fans happy. Stuart Price was off his game this time, although he is living in a creative “Groundhog Day” loop. When it’s hard to identify the intention of the majority of songs on a commercial pop album, we’ve got a serious problem. The worst thing of all is that the songs to sing along to at the top of your lungs as if there were no tomorrow are nowhere to be seen here. Kylie –or we should say, her producers– have become too comfortable. We would have settled for a single song that could hold a candle to “I Believe in You”, “Slow” or “Your Disco Needs You”. Our only choice is to keep waiting.
Sergio del Amo