Kylie: Disco review – the ultimate rescue remedy

In these dark days, Kylie steps up and delivers a shimmering stream of dancefloor bangers

It feels increasingly cruel that in a year when the New Normal dictates we all keep as far away from each other as possible, pop’s best practitioners have delivered sweaty dancefloor fillers. It started with Dua Lipa’s album Future Nostalgia and its fusion of sleek dance-pop and disco decadence, before Lady Gaga took us off to the post-EDM clubs of Chromatica after a few years of dabbling with guitars, “authenticity” and Mark Ronson. Following suit is Kylie – surname be damned! – who has eschewed the six-string instruments and stetsons of 2018’s country-leaning Golden in favour of something much sparklier on her 15th album.

Being bombarded with wall-to-wall bangers at a time when mainlining ITV’s The Cube constitutes a big night is frustrating, but the efficiently titled Disco is saturated in Kylie’s supernatural mix of high camp and total sincerity. Taking its cues from 1970s and 80s disco, all buffed staccato strings, lithe rhythm guitar and gold-plated choruses, the album works both as the soundtrack to an escapist glide around your kitchen or, on songs such as opener Magic and the timely lead single Say Something (“can we all be as one again?”), a heartfelt wallow in heightened emotions. Mainly written and recorded during lockdown, with Minogue engineering her vocals from a makeshift home studio, it comes with its own anti-working-from-home anthem in the shape of the sashaying, conga-line ready Monday Blues.

Of course on paper, “Kylie plus disco” immediately conjures up images of lightly sloshed, wedding-reception-at-12am escapism, and luckily there’s bucketloads of that here. The ludicrous, string-drenched Supernova, which ricochets like mirrorball reflections, initially feels like the apex but is trumped not once but twice; first by Where Does the DJ Go?, which pairs Chic-esque guitar lines with cheesy record scratches and a reference to I Will Survive, and then by the gloriously OTT Dance Floor Darling (a much better album title, let’s be honest). After a mid-tempo start fuelled by finger snaps and glistening synths, this future crowd favourite – if such a thing can still exist – suddenly races through the gears. “So what you waiting for? Get up on the floor,” Kylie coos as the tempo doubles amid a cluster of vocodered voices pleading “let’s get it on, until the break of dawn”. It’s as deliciously camp as the 80s blowout perm she sports on the album’s artwork.

While there’s nothing here as instantly memorable as Can’t Get You Out of My Head or All the Lovers, Disco benefits from a consistent sonic palette, and one that nestles neatly inside the Kylie comfort zone. Free of the pressure of big singles in a streaming era that often sidelines “heritage” acts, the album also feels relatively filler-free. Even its weaker moments – the Strictly Come Dancing schmaltz of Miss a Thing, the grating Last Chance – are saved by a prevailing and unwavering belief in the healing power of pop.

As with Golden, Kylie is listed as a co-writer on every track here, and while that album touched on some of her personal upheavals, Disco’s lyrics mainly revolve around the push and pull of love and its myriad forms. It ends, however, with a curio in the shape of the piano-led self-empowerment anthem Celebrate You. Focusing on a single character, Mary (“you ain’t ordinary”), who represents the sadness in all of us, its trite conceit is exploded by a gorgeous, effervescent melody and a near-transcendent timeliness. It’s the kind of magic trick only Kylie could pull off.

Watch the video for Say Something by Kylie Minogue


Michael Cragg

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Kylie: Tension review – Padam was just for starters…
After this summer’s megahit single, Kylie Minogue remains firmly on the dancefloor – and the 1980s – with this largely irresistible set of disco and R&B cuts

Kitty Empire

22, Sep, 2023 @10:00 AM

Article image
Girl Ray: Prestige review – full strutting disco fun
The north Londoners kick loose on their playful third album of sumptuous dancefloor synth-pop

Tara Joshi

06, Aug, 2023 @12:00 PM

Article image
Tame Impala: The Slow Rush review – polished disco funk
Kevin Parker shifts further away from his psych rock roots, while pondering happiness and his continued relevance

Kitty Empire

15, Feb, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
Róisín Murphy review – a triumphant dancefloor workout
At once introspective and deeply theatrical, Murphy’s tough, savvy dance music proves irresistible – not least to the singer herself

Kitty Empire

25, Sep, 2021 @1:00 PM

Article image
Toro y Moi: Mahal review – gently seductive but frustratingly half-baked
The seventh album from chillwave’s leading light soars with psychedelic meshes, but is too uneven to cherish

Phil Mongredien

01, May, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Ibibio Sound Machine: Electricity review – vibrant Afro funk hits the heights
(Merge Records)
The London band’s kaleidoscopic new album crosses genres and skips past musical borders

Kadish Morris

27, Mar, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
Kylie Minogue review – rhinestone cowgirl delivers
Channelling heartache and Dolly Parton, Kylie is reborn as a double-denim country queen at the first outing of her multifaceted new album

Kitty Empire

17, Mar, 2018 @6:00 PM

Article image
Nile Rodgers’s Meltdown review – a radical world party
The Chic supremo serves up a genial, all-inclusive musical feast, with Brazilian pop star Anitta leading the charge…

Damien Morris

10, Aug, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
Jungle review – the sound of the Great Resumption
The unrelenting flow of feelgood neo-disco led by Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland delights a crowd who need nothing more

Kitty Empire

04, Sep, 2021 @1:00 PM

Article image
One to watch: Kamille
The stockbroker turned Grammy-winning singer-songwriter has penned hits for Little Mix, Dua Lipa and more. Now she has made her a joyful, soul-infused album of her own

Kadish Morris

02, Sep, 2023 @1:00 PM