Saturday, November 7, 2020

Review: Disco • Kylie Minogue

From the average American’s perspective, the longevity of Kylie Minogue's career might seem perplexing. Though she has released records on a regular rotation since 1987 and has performed modestly in the United Kingdom and Australia throughout her career, Minogue has hoisted only five songs into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. (America, we need to do a bit better in that department.) What is more unbelievable, however, is that it took this long for her to brand a record with the upfront name Disco. With a pinched, forever young voice and no less than a dozen thumping club records to her name, Minogue is maybe the most loyal to the dance floor compared to any post-Eurodance contemporaries – so if anybody deserves to claim stake to the genre via album title, it’s her.

It’s a bittersweet time to think about the club and concert venues: They’re places we shouldn’t be for our own protection, even if some seem to believe they’re immune to airborne viruses. Minogue channels our desire for normality here, drilling messages of unity into a dance record that was largely pieced together mid-pandemic in a home studio. “We’re a million miles apart in a thousand ways,” she opens on “Say Something,” a spectacularly dynamic cut that builds upon a deep, gurgling synth run to spark magic. (Coincidentally, the opening song, "Magic," has a similar sparkle.) And of course, the art of dance is both a self-referential lyrical pillar and a mandated response to the music here: “You and me, let’s dance ‘til morning and wake up feeling no regrets,” she tells her “Dance Floor Darling,” a definite highlight even despite its criminally abridged chorus.

In true Kylie Minogue fashion, Disco sterilizes earnest influences – this time around, high-energy disco music of the 1970s and 1980s – with a modern skew. While “Supernova” and “Real Groove” both rivet her voice right into turbo-charged electronics, they’re not without some bass licks, string runs, and yes, even cowbells. “I Love It,” meanwhile, is precisely the sugar-spiked chintz we’ve come to expect from Minogue. For the better part of a quarter-century, she has been a reliable source of surface-level, turbo-charged dance records that borrow from a rotating door of authentic musical landmarks – but not in at least a decade has she seemed this focused to a new muse. Although Disco rarely scrapes the emotional depth and raw funk of genuine disco, there's something to be said about its sharp hooks and consistently fantastic presentation.

Disco is available now under BMG Rights Management.

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