Friday, February 21, 2014

Album Review: Kylie Minogue, "Aphrodite" (2010)

Kylie Minogue, "Aphrodite," 2010.

Kylie Minogue, promo photo for "Aphrodite," 2010.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of pop singer Kylie Minogue. My favorite album of hers is 2010’s “Aphrodite.” It’s probably my favorite because I listened to it twice during an absurdly long snow-filled commute one day and it made my stress disappear. Like Minogue’s other albums, “Aphrodite” is a fun and upbeat pop album full of danceable songs. It’s a trip to KylieWorld, where things almost always go well, and good times are just a dance away. KylieWorld is quite a wonderful place to visit, especially in the middle of winter. 

Kylie sets the agenda for the album pretty quickly, as the first song “All the Lovers” starts out with Kylie singing, “Dance/It’s all I want to do/So won’t you dance?” “All the Lovers” is a song all about finding a new love, as Kylie sings in the chorus: “All the lovers/that have gone before/they don’t compare/to you.” Kylie professes her love as wobbly synths, sounding almost like a theremin, accompany her in the background. 

“Get Outta My Way” starts out slowly, with just a piano, before Kylie’s vocals come in. In the song Kylie is bored with her boyfriend, and starts flirting with strangers, aggressively singing, “This is what’ll happen if you ain’t giving your girl what she needs.” Kylie taunts her boyfriend, as she flirtatiously sings, “See me with him and it’s turnin’ you on.” 

“Aphrodite” packs a strong 1-2-3 punch, as the third song is the excellent “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)”.  The first three songs were all released as singles, with the lead single “All the Lovers” charting in the Top Ten in many European countries. Like the other songs, “Put Your Hands Up” starts slowly, with Kylie singing “All we need is love in this life, it’s true/All I need is the love I get from you/And I want to scream it out/If you hear what I’m saying,” which leads us right into the exuberant chorus, “Put your hands up/if you feel love tonight,” and then the song really takes off as a bouncy dance number. Displaying her trademark resiliency, Kylie sings “Everybody knows how life can get so twisted/but I won’t let it bring me down.” In KylieWorld, as in the real world, a positive attitude is the best defense against the bad things in life.

The next song is the sexy “Closer,” which opens with a catchy keyboard that sounds like a harpsichord, bringing a mock-classical feel to the song. Kylie’s sexy vocals accentuate the sensuality of the chorus: “Closer and closer and closer/to you now, never enough/closer and closer you pull me/give me more/soft and slow.” Definitely a highlight of the album for me, though I may be a bit biased because of my crush on Miss Minogue.

“Everything is Beautiful,” not to be confused with the 1970 Ray Stevens song of the same name, is a gorgeous slower song that finds Kylie longing for an escape from dreary reality. As she sings in the chorus, “And if I lie with you long enough/I can see the things I’m dreaming of/let’s go through the ritual/until everything is beautiful.” The song has a groovy catchy piano part during the verses that I like. Kylie’s voice is lovely on this song, and I think her voice is quite underrated in general. She has a very pure tone and her voice always sounds warm and inviting. And unlike some pop singers, her voice always sounds natural.

Next up is the funky “Aphrodite,” which starts with Kylie asking “Can you feel me in stereo?” I don’t know exactly what that means, but I like the sound of it. As if to confirm what I just wrote about Kylie’s voice always seeming very natural, she sings, “I got soul, you can check/in my heart, in my head/I got spirit, you can feel/did you think I wasn’t real?” The song then moves into the catchy chorus, “I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty/I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite.” Kylie takes on the persona of the Greek god Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and pleasure, singing “You know that I’m magical/I am the original/I am the only one/to make you feel this way.” Oddly enough, this catchy song wasn’t released as a single.

“Illusion” starts out a cappella, before strings come in. It’s a nice song, but lyrically rather slight. I can’t quite figure out what it’s about, other than Kylie being slightly lost, as she sings, “I’m surrounded by confusion/and I’m lost in this illusion.” Reading the liner notes, I see that “Illusion” is one of the songs that Minogue wrote the lyrics for. Sorry Kylie!

“Better Than Today” starts out with some bleats from a synth before Kylie starts to brag, “Oh I see what she do/but I can do it better/and the talk of the town be true/that I’ll make you forget her.” It’s another upbeat, positive song, with the chorus wondering “What’s the point of livin’ if you don’t take a chance?/what’s the point of livin’ if you don’t want to dance?” Those are great questions, and they articulate one of the key philosophies of KylieWorld: dancing is always good.

“Too Much” is another happy and upbeat song, as Kylie sings about a love that “It’s too much/this kind of love/for the first time.” It’s a bit more repetitive than some of the other songs on the album, but it’s still a fun song.

“Cupid Boy” starts with a very catchy guitar riff, as Kylie sings about a guy she wants to see more of. “Why don’t you call me/start hittin’ me up/give me your love” Kylie coos as the club beats thump in the background. I’d definitely call Kylie if she sang this song to me.

“Looking For an Angel” starts off with strings, as Kylie sings a wordless backing vocal. It’s perhaps the most personal song on the album, and Minogue’s lyrics are quite philosophical, as she sings to an angel, “And when good things are good/I want to share them/I don’t want to be alone/and when darkness falls/will you hear my call/and show me the way back home?” Personally, I wonder if these lyrics were inspired by Minogue’s successful battle against breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2005. The song also works in a nice obscure reference, as Kylie sings, “I’m waiting for my seraphim,” which is a fancy word for angel. It’s a lovely song.

“Can’t Beat the Feeling” is an energetic closer to the album, as Kylie sings “There doesn’t have to be a reason/there doesn’t have to be a why/and any moment could be magical/it could be this night.” Once again this articulates a key idea of KylieWorld; that good times are never far away, and they could be right around the corner. Wallowing in your misery isn’t allowed in KylieWorld. 

“Aphrodite” is an excellent album with a lot of very catchy songs that exemplify Kylie Minogue’s positive attitude and energy. Listening to this album and visiting KylieWorld for 45 minutes or so should make those winter blues go away.

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