Kylie Minogue's 2010 return to music has been an interesting journey. After the feast of aural delights she presented to the public with 2007's X, including "Wow," "In My Arms," and "The One," she was continuing the streak of uplifting pop gems that she began unveiling worldwide back in 2001 with "Can't Get You Out Of My Head." However, with the Queen of Reinvention still out and about, and the current pop scene littered with soundalikes, Kylie had a hard choice ahead of her for her follow-up album.
There was, of course, the easy way to go: Lady Gaga's signature sound was definitely a fallback, and RedOne even helped Minogue produce some potential tracks for the upcoming album. And since Kylie is very much a part of the well-oiled pop machine, it wouldn't be a far cry to hear her manipulating and owning that sound. But no, while a viable option, perhaps it was better for someone else to go that route, because Kylie chose not to. Instead she slipped on those oh-so-familiar pair of dancefloor shoes and whipped up another frothy brew of dance-pop bliss.
Kylie's Heavenly Muse
For the name sake of her 11th studio album, Minogue picked the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. This is an interesting choice for her, because not only is Minogue obviously comparing herself to Aphrodite, she's possibly unwittingly making a couple of other claims as well. There are a couple of origins that lend themselves to the lore of Aphrodite, including the castration of Uranus by Cronus and the subsequent birth from sea foam of Uranus' genitals, as well as her birth to Dione and Zeus. Since both can't possibly have happened to the same person, there have been texts that have differentiated between the two, pointing out both an older, "heavenly" Aphrodite and the Goddess we all know and Love, a younger Aphrodite.
Both Aphrodites represent different facets of love, and both together encompass "All the Lovers." Of course, in Kylie's mid-tempo lead single, "All the Lovers" actually encompasses everyone she's been with before the current man of her dreams. And this aspect of love falls firmly in the younger Aphrodite's court, as she governs the love between two people. "Heavenly" Aphrodite, humorously enough, tends to govern homosexual male love, and in this, Kylie is also correctly channeling her. Lord knows gay males love them some Kylie.
And the majority of Aphrodite is themed thusly. Love above all, enjoying the mind, body, and soul of the person you're with. Both "Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)" and "Can't Beat The Feeling" do a great job of pushing this theme with energetic and uplifting results. Kylie really dips heavily into modern house for Aphrodite and there's nothing better than lyrics of love coupled with that happy house vibe. On a slightly separate subject, Kylie also heavily embraces the concept of lust as a driving emotion. "Everything Is Beautiful" has Kylie singing about going "through the ritual until everything is beautiful" which is an excellent way to translate that bestial act into something enriching and almost serene, both in content and in the lazy, relaxed vibe of the production.
Love Conquers Most
"Looking for an Angel" and "Closer" both combine the two, as Kylie longs in the former, over a driving beat and instrumentation, for that person to override her physical and emotional senses. In the latter, she sings about the combination she and her lover have become since connecting on so many levels. The track is produced brilliantly with a level of drama and tension that supports Kylie's beautiful voice. Almost in a direct 180° spin is "Cupid Boy," a stunning electro groove where Minogue practically begs for the level of connection she boasts about in "Closer." "Too Much" gives it a more visceral vibe in both ways as well. The production is charged and vibrant, gritty and deep, while the lyrics talk about the overwhelming sensations associated with pure physical chemistry.
The Flip Side of Love
What’s the worst thing that could happen to you
Take a chance tonight and try something new
You’re getting boring you’re oh so boring
And I don’t recognize the zombie you’ve turned into
Kylie begins her next projected single, "Get Outta My Way," with these words. While ultimately they are aimed at a man who has failed to hold her attention, one wonders if there isn't another meaning in these words to the pop mainstream. There is an alarming similarity between a lot of songs on the radio these days, and "Get Outta My Way" does have its fingers on the pulse of house music over the slight stagnation of commercial electro. It is definitely more of an anthemic track than "All the Lovers," and seems like an ironic "sequel" in terms of subject matter.
≈ "Get Outta My Way" also represents the
minority of the album, all of the tracks that don't push up love but
get buried under it. Singing of her doubt and her confusion over a
breakbeat dark pop track, Kylie gets lost in "Illusion," one of the
most distinctive tracks on the album. Another production that defies
the happy house vibe of Aphrodite
is, interestingly, the title track.
"Aphrodite" feels like a meld of bleacher-pop, 80s nostalgia,
freestyle, and modern electro. The subject concerns Kylie basically
bragging about all of her sexual prowess, changing the concept of
Aphrodite from a Goddess of Love to a power you don't mess with. It
seems a bit confused, both in subject and execution, but it is an
entertaining track nonetheless. And in what seems like an album non
sequitur, is "Better Than Today," where Kylie abandons all notions of
love, lust, or the combination of both and just wants you to have a
great time. And with the carefree production on the track, who would
have trouble following her desires?
What's the point of livin' if you don't wanna dance?
Well said, Kylie.
This is another knockout hit album from Kylie. Perhaps more coherent
and streamlined than X, while it doesn't have the immediate appeal
that single tracks from X provided, Aphrodite is consistently more
entertaining than the 10th album. This is one Do Not Miss album of
Release July 2010 on Capitol/Astralwerks.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy