By Cory Albertson
Critics and the public alike enjoy comparing pop’s various princesses in an effort to see who’s ripping off who with what outfit or which one’s beating the other on the charts. But when you’re Kylie Minogue and you have over two decades of experience as pop royalty, releasing new material becomes not so much a competition with the likes of Madonna or Lady Gaga, but rather a competition with your own hits. Twenty-two years after her debut album Kylie (which gave us her cutesy version of the “The Loco-Motion”) and nine years since her worldwide smash “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” Minogue has outdone even herself (and, yes, many of her contemporaries) with her latest album Aphrodite.
Despite a host of collaborators, including English pop band Kish Mauve and Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, Minogue and executive producer Stuart Price (Madonna, The Killers) manage to maintain a remarkably cohesive and consistent state of euphoria throughout the album. Setting the tone, lead-single “All the Lovers” quietly seduces with sparse synth beats and a sultry Minogue cooing, “Dance: it’s all I want to do” before climaxing into an explosion of electropop that induces nothing short of a sonic nirvana. The high continues with the thumping piano lines of “Get Outta My Way,” the ominous, hypnotic background sighs of “Illusion,” and the intense synth claps of the steamy “Cupid Boy,” all of which conjure a night at the club replete with peaks, valleys and flourishes in between that never let you off the dance floor.
What’s kept Minogue a fixture in those clubs as well as on charts worldwide, though, isn’t just her ability to stay current with musical trends, but also her emotive ability, showcased at its best amid the title-track’s marching-band beats. Like an embattled amazon calling to her troops, Minogue asks with perfect parts force and cheekiness, “You sure you can take me in?/‘Cause this is where the fun begins/I’m gonna feel your heart stop in my hands.” It’s a wink and a declaration rolled into one that perfectly encapsulates Minogue herself. She knows she can control the public’s whim, that to her fans she stands above her contemporaries as an actual goddess of, not only fun, but of dance and, yes, of love. Aphrodite meanwhile merely cements that standing as well-deserved.