Queen of the X factor
Gay icon and disco diva Kylie Minogue is back with her 10th studio album, X.
The album is her first since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and her first new offering since 2003’s Body Language.
On first listen, it is obvious Minogue is having a great time with this recording. There is an element of self-indulgence about it – almost as if she is recording something purely for herself and not really worrying about the critics or the record-buying public.
But it is this overwhelming feeling of fun and relaxation that makes the album instantly appealing and likeable.
X will be for Kylie what Ray of Light was for Madonna – an album that isn’t scared to dabble in new sounds without distancing itself so far from the record-buying public that it fails to sell.
Track 1 – 2 Hearts
So, we’ve already heard this heavy offering a squillion times on the radio and television. It is divisive, but the gorgeous film clip gives it and Kylie a new edge – and it’s sitting at number one on this week’s ARIA singles chart.
Track 2 – Like A Drug
Not to be confused with Love Is A Drug, a widely leaked cover version of the Roxy Music song, this repetitive electro track has overtones of Depeche Mode and New Order, but without forgetting Minogue’s staple – good old-fashioned, repetitive pop.
Track 3 – In My Arms
Widely leaked earlier in the year, In My Arms is the Your Disco Needs You on the album. It is high camp, catchy and instantly memorable. The synth and guitar sounds combine to force your arms into the air in a celebration of fun.
Track 4 – Speakerphone
Remember Spandau Ballet? No, not the hair … the music. Kylie is clearly getting back to her 80s roots here, but with more polish and professionalism than the era is remembered for.
Track 5 – Sensitized
Seductive and sensual, yet not one of the album’s strongest tracks. This too was widely leaked prior to the album release. There’s plenty of sex and sexuality here, but it is a track you are likely to skip more times than listen to.
Track 6 – Heart Beat Rock
It’s pretty obvious that Calvin Harris had a hand in the production of this song – and it is a style that really suits Minogue. The beat is still strong, but the electro influence is more obvious here than on the other tracks. Don’t be surprised if this song heralds a return to those awful fluoro colours of the past.
Track 7 – The One
Kylie goes trance, but without losing the vocal strength of her pop roots. There’s a sense of desperation in the lyrics, but it doesn’t come across as sincere. Instead, it feels cold and distant. Perhaps the pop princess put this track down after her break-up with Olivier.
Track 8 – No More Rain
There’s clearly a lot of symbolism in this track. Though not instantly likeable, it is one tune that will grow on you the more you listen and take in the lyrics. Don’t be surprised to hear it over the closing credits of a movie soundtrack.
Track 9 – All I See
Grab a little Janet Jackson and a sprinkling of Darren Hayes and throw in Minogue’s style and flair and you have All I See. There’s a real R’n’B flavour here, but not as bold as Body Language.
Track 10 – Stars
Another widely leaked track, but one that will still end up on high rotation. While not as camp as In My Arms, there’s a killer dancefloor beat here just waiting to be remixed into a party favourite.
Track 11 – WOW
If All I See was a nod to Janet Jackson, then this is a tilt to Paula Abdul and her raw dance style of the 80s. The distorted drum beat and catchy chorus combine for a slick electro number that fits well into the album.
Track 12 – Nu-di-ty
Bloodshy and Avant, the people behind Britney’s Toxic, lend a hand here to give Kylie a completely different sound – and oh what a sound it is! This isn’t classic Kylie, but you can’t help but love the fact she isn’t scared of taking risks. But then who would be after having battled breast cancer?
Track 13 – Cosmic
The only song that, musically, doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. It sounds like a tribute to Olivier, but could also be considered Kylie’s way of saying, “I’m okay – stop worrying about me.” Not a stand-out in terms of the overall album, but you can’t help but feel this is special to Kylie in some way.