Kylie: Aphrodite | CD review

(Parlophone)

Looking to Kylie for works of great substance would be futile. Since her sublime 2001 comeback "Can't Get You Out of My Head" ushered in a fresh era of Minoguery, the Australian has specialised in grown-up dance-pop with all the consequence of a bit of dandelion fluff. She has faced down both breast cancer and a love rat, but still Kylie's records – collated by an international battalion of songwriter/producers – place surface gloss over any real-life unpleasantness. She is there for the good times. There are no bad times. Pop-phobics might call this sort of thing vapid, but there is bad vapid and there is good vapid.

Aphrodite is billed as yet another comeback album, after X, her 2007 offering, did well (but not all that well). As with most latterday Kylie works, Aphrodite glides by classily, registering a hit here and there. Warm and consolatory, "All the Lovers" is a keeper. The title track is another minor revelation. It's a stompy, hand-clappy, sloppily enunciated Kyliefication of R&B whose core levels of piffle ("It's the truth/ It's a fact/ I was gone/ Now I'm back") are magically transcended by the combined forces of stereo panning and chutzpah. DJs with a passing interest in the classics will surely fade "Aphrodite" into Bananarama's version of "Venus".

For all its wrinkle-free exterior, Aphrodite does have becoming quirks. "Closer" features something akin to a harpsichord, while "Cupid Boy" has an eye on the States. "Why don't you call me and start hitting me up?" invites Kylie, whose first, successful tour of the US last year has clearly lodged the possibilities of that territory more squarely in her sights.

Pop man of the moment Stuart Price – he produced Madonna's Confessions, Scissor Sisters' latest and part-produced the forthcoming Brandon Flowers solo album – is in the executive producer's chair, herding the cabal of tune elves and lending a sleek cohesion to the whole. The big guest names fail to ignite, however. Keane mainman Tim Rice-Oxley's "Everything Is Beautiful" is insufficiently dancey; Jake Shears's contribution, "Too Much", is just all right.

The question that the market asks of every disc by a pop female in 2011 is, will it Gaga? As befits a star of some decades' standing, Kylie has resisted the temptation to match La Germanotta stunt for stunt. But Aphrodite is a little flimsy next to Gaga. Best then to leave Kylie on her little silvery cloud of dry ice, hovering winningly for a few tunes, then floating away.

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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