Kylie: Disco review – the ultimate rescue remedy

(BMG)
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

Contributor

Michael Cragg

The GuardianTramp

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