"I'm fierce and I'm feeling mighty. I'm a golden girl. I'm an Aphrodite, alright!" declares Kylie Minogue on "Aphrodite," the title track of her 11th studio album. Accompanied by a drumline and kickin' keyboard melody, the song is one of many highlights the Australian singer delivers on this outing.
The style of Aphrodite will come as no surprise--it's slick dance pop through and through with no ballads to disrupt the rhythm. What may be surprising is how cohesive and consistently good this album is, particularly following X, which delivered some great songs but felt disjointed.
The album's first third consists of four particularly uptempo numbers. Glittery first single "All the Lovers" starts the set off right with its bright melodies of synthesizers and piano chords over a chugging bassline. "Get Outta My Way" comes on a bit stronger, reminiscent of Fever's "Love at First Sight." Rumor has it this will be the second single, and it's great choice. "Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)" delivers a similarly clubby vibe. "Closer" is a bit darker with a melody of synth harpsichord. All of these songs are co-produced by Stuart Price, the musical magician who also helmed Scissor Sisters' latest album. He produces or co-produces 10 of Aphrodite's 12 songs.
Mid-tempo "Everything Is Beautiful" is the closest the album gets to a slow song. It's quite apparently written by Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley, as it's easy to imagine Tom Chaplin singing this instead with a different arrangement. It's a lovely song in Kylie's hands with a synth-pop sound that complements the surrounding dance pop. "Illusion" blends some acoustic guitar and strings into the Price-produced dance pop sound. Singer-songwriter Nerina Pallot and her husband Andy Chatterley wrote and co-produced (with Price) "Better than Today," another guitar-and-synths-based song.
Kylie turns the production reins over to Calvin Harris for "Too Much," and his edgier style contrasts with the smoother dance pop production Price favors. Darker "Cupid Boy" finds Kylie in a particularly expressive mood, awash in layers of scratchy synths, swirling synths, guitar and beats. In contrast, "Looking for a Angel" is bright and smooth, gliding along as if effortlessly in the way that a lot of the songs on Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor did. "Can't Beat the Feeling" finishes with a "hands in the air" party feel.
This is Kylie's best album since Fever, and closest in style and form to that album. Considering how much I love that album, she couldn't have done better by me. Aphrodite may be the Greek goddess of love and beauty, but in Kylie's hands she's now also the patron saint of dance pop.
Best: All the Lovers, Get Outta My Way, Aphrodite, Everything Is Beautiful, Illusion, Cupid Boy