By John Hill
Kylie Minogue, the patron saint of happy gays everywhere, has returned. Depending on whom you ask, Kiss Me Once is her twelfth studio album, unless you count 2012’s The Abbey Road Sessions, which found her revisiting past hits in an orchestral fashion. Let’s just say that this is her first album of new material since 2010’s stellar Aphrodite, a disc that saw Ms. Minogue touring the United States as if she was a conquering heroine. The question is, can she bring it the same way twice in a row? It appears the answer is “it depends.”
The album starts off with the epic “Into the Blue,” which easily grabs the title for “best pop song that will never see the light of day on US radio stations.” Listening to “Into the Blue” for the first time feels similar to how Aphrodite’s lead single “All the Lovers” did on first listen, and that’s a good thing. There is a timeless vibe to “Blue” that makes you feel like you are being launched into orbit willingly. “Million Miles” follows with a driving, upbeat groove that segues nicely into the synth shuffler “I Was Gonna Cancel” and the funky “Sexy Love.” At that moment, Kiss Me Once is everything you expect from Kylie.
At that point, the record takes a left turn from the upbeat vibe into a darker groove, starting with the now-infamous “Sexercize” and continuing on with “Feels So Good.” While these aren’t bad songs, they are a bit jarring given the upbeat direction the first third of the album takes. Depending on your mood, this duo is either a welcome change or a wrong turn off of a right track. “If Only,” “Les Sex” and “Kiss Me Once” bring the vibe back up, only to have it come crashing down on Kylie’s duet with Enrique Iglesias “Beautiful.” While this song was maligned early on, it has become a grower that provides an interesting bridge to set closer “Fine,” which deserves a club release with a suite of remixes.
Overall, Kiss Me Once is a solid collection of tracks, if not a fully realized cohesive set. There are plenty of tracks here to fill your playlist as the weather turns warm and the windows in your car are rolled down. Depending on your mood, it is either a passable set or an emotional rollercoaster, but either way it’s worth checking out.
While his full-time job is in education, John Hill also writes a successful music blog titled Pop Music Notes. He is also active on Twitter @popmusicnotes and lives in Denver with his partners in crime James and Bruiser.