Well, whenever I do a review the album has to be either unfathomably bad or so good it reaches a level of unprecedented brilliance… or it could just be that I particularly interested in the album or the artist. Not being a Kylie fan, but seeing as I did like the lead single ‘All The Lovers’, I thought I’d put together a little review for you all.
Well, it had to materialise at some point didn’t it? After the inconsistent-but-holding-hidden-gems ‘Body Language’ and ‘X’, which saw the Aussie pop princess experiment with her sound, Kylie’s back, with her most anticiapted album for nearly ten years!
‘Aphrodite’ is very much a safe record; piling plenty of obvious Minogue tracks onto an album that, in one listen, could leave you wanting to put on a record that holds some weight. None-the-less, there are some real gems on here, and I guess it’s my job to find them.
01. ‘All The Lovers’ (5.0 STARS)
You’ve all heard this one, a brilliant teaser for the comeback of pop princess Kylie Minogue with a faultless production from the brilliant Stuart Price who’s work in this track is more Price-ish than the man himself. Kylie shows off her oh-so-velvety vocals before a rousing, euphoric, punch-your-hands-in-the-air chorus to prove she’s back with a vengeance and she’s on top form á la the ‘Fever’ years. This song must have the sexiest breakdown on any record in the past ten years, with Kylie’’s distinctive, whispery tones cushioning the listen in a hammock of silk.
It’s lyrics are playfully suggestive too – “All the lovers, that have gone before/They don’t compare, to you”, implying Kylie’s been around the block a bit; hearing this from someone like Nicki Minaj might be seen as offensive, but it’s not Minaj. It’s Kylie. She get’s away with it because… well, just because. This is a perfect opening track for the album.
02. ‘Get Outta My Way’ (5.0 STARS)
Confirmed as the second single to be taken from ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Get Outta My Way’ opens with a pretty little piano riff and some radio-friendly “Woo”s. But then Kylie’s at it again! She’s being a bit a bunny boiler – “Leave you, move on, to a perfect stranger/You talk, I’ll walk, wanna feel the danger”. What a brilliant exploitation of just what being a global treasures like Kylie have the right to do now! She’s on the hunt for someone who’s a better lover than her current one and she basically wants you out of her way, you boring person.
With plenty of fizzy-sounding chords and a stomping piano driving the production accompanied by a lovely, breezy, vocal “Woo” riff, this song is going to serve as a very strong follow-up to ‘All The Lovers’. Now, hopefully Kylie and her Record Company can learn how to release a song properly (releasing the digital download two weeks before the physical release was the sole reason ‘All The Lovers’ failed to hit the UK #1).
03. ‘Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)’ (2.5 STARS)
Why do they insist on doing it? Why? It does absolutely nothing! Are they trying to spread the duds on an album in case they all end up shoved toward the end so only half the album is listenable? It baffles me, as you can see, that artists will always put a dud near the beginning to halt the momentum the first two/three tracks work up. It’s very annoying.
With a much more reserved intro; one that concentrates less on the production and more of Kylie’s croaky-yet-soothing deeper vocals, this song is one of the few that wasn’t produced by Stuart Price. And it shows. Not that this was produced by someone who isn’t talented (there’s brilliant middle eight), but something in the music echoes the work of Dr. Luke; this song feels like clean Ke$ha record. Add some clichéd lyrics for the chorus – “Put you hands up, if you feel love tonight/If you feel love”, and verses that fail to flow particularly well, and you get this song. And you’ve heard it all before – the whole ‘let’s go party! If you’re enjoying it as much as I am let’s have some fun!’ vibe, but on a really anaemic level, like she’s inviting you to a party that’ll end at 10:00pm.
In an album where there’s six possible singles, it’s a shame to hear off the grapevine that this one’s being considered as one, because it comes off as a filler and single-handedly stunts the flow of the album so far. Mind you, I’ll add a whole extra star for that middle eight.. PHWOAR! That middle eight shouldn’t be wasted on a song like this, it just seems like she’s re-treading territory she’s already conquered back when she started out.
04. ‘Closer’ (5.0 STARS)
Ooh, would you listen to that intro! Kylie’s gone all dark and techno-ish on us! Employing a harpsichord to play the fast-paced backing, then being accompanied by a bouncy bassline, the song runs straight into the chorus unexpectedly yet very rewardingly. At first song appears to be a classical song revamped for the 21st Century, almost sounding like something Bach would write with a thumping beat behind it. It then evolves into a beautifully rousing experience through the futuristic, space-age sounding production akin to Scissor Sisters’ ‘Night Work’ album track ‘Sex And Violence’… with more harpsichords.
Kylie’s voice seems very sedated, very dreamy and very mesmerising as always, sailing effortlessly over the production that somehow makes you (or at least myself: someone who isn’t easily physically affected by music) hot under the collar. She’s emphasising every syllable as she hauntingly annunciates the lyrics. 100% yummy. This is by far one of the best tracks on the album.
You can just imagine the video: Kylie floating weightlessly (and naked, some nifty camera work needed here) through a space-ship’s ‘never-ending’ tunnel with close-ups of only half her face and various other body parts as she drifts by in slow motion, gradually being swallowed up by a black smoke that would wrap round her body and eventually evolve into a dress. Very futuristic.
05. ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ (3.0 STARS)
Only Kylie would write a song with that title. Marching along the a plodding beat, with the some icy synths to beef up proceedings, ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ a perfect example of what’s wrong with this album – it’s oh-so-breezy and just doesn’t do anything but come across as just another Kylie Minogue song. A pretty dullard track, and very skippable, it fails where ‘Closer’ and ‘All The Lovers’ have succeeded so far – it holds no weight: there’s nothing to it and by the time the album’s end, you’ll find yourself re-listening to the first 30 seconds not to replay to the goodness, but to remind yourself of which track it is.
There’s very little to say about this one as not much happens, it’s your typical Kylie track who’s only connection to the rest of the songs is it’s producer. Stuart Price brings a sense a spice to proceedings with the subliminal electronic xylophone sounds but otherwise, the lyrics do absolutely nothing, and after a lot of listens, the song itself is only mediocre, but nothing special nor outstanding about it, especially seeing as it’s sandwiched between two of the best songs on the album.
TRACK OF THE ALBUM
06. ‘Aphrodite’ (5.0 STARS)
Opening to one of the most infectious introductions on the album, it’s baffling why this wasn’t Kylie’s comeback single, the lyrics make it seem as if the song was written for that purpose alone – “It’s the truth, it’s a fact/I was gone but now I’m back!”. This song lets the listener know Kylie’s not all sugary sweet: she’s got a dominant alter-ego that’s represented in the lyrics, the vocal style and the music. With military-style drums, lyrics with more attitude than a chav, and sung in a way that makes Ke$ha seem like Little Red Riding Hood, this song is begging to be released, unfortunately it kind of overshadows previous tracks like ‘Get Outta My Way’, which in itself is a very good song, but when compared to this in terms of intimidation, ‘Aphrodite’ makes ‘Get Outta My Way’ seem like a politely written inquest to leave your lover.
On top of the pounding production there’s another icy synth production to lend a superhuman quality to the song. Very apt considering the title. The brilliant vocal riff “Can you feel me on the stereo?”, is a demand for attention whilst being Kylie’s 2010 version of the “Beauty’s where you find it” vocal riff from Madonna’s “Vogue”, in fact, Kylie sounds like Madonna singing it.
With the most intimidating production of any song on the album, this is a clear stand-out, showcasing Kylie’s secret alpha-female secret personality claiming “I’m fierce and I’m feelin’ mighty/I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite, alright?” Whilst to some the “alright” at the end of the song can seem cheesy, in this song is Kylie’s way of saying ‘That’s the end of it, there’s no negotiation’.
07. ‘Illusion’ (3.5 STARS)
Far more sedate than the last track, or so you think until around the twenty-fifth second of the track where the song becomes a synthy, riff-ridden track which is a plea for clarity from confusion. And odd track to choose to follow the mighty ‘Aphrodite’ because after a few listens you realise this is another one of those entirely pleasing tracks, but doesn’t work well on the album.
Whilst the song feels like it’s not a good as others, after a few listen you’ll find this one a grower, in the sense that you have to play it many times in order to hear everything going – maybe that was Kylie and Stuart’s idea… to make the track itself a bit of an illusion? Hmmm… Well, with that middle eight, the song really picks up, it’s just a shame that that’s the only place you really feel you want to listen to because it’s swirling strings and Kylie’s once-again whispery vocals soon accompanied by plenty of “Oooh”s, make it the highlight of the track.
08. ‘Better Than Today’ (5.0 STARS)
With the craziest sounding opening riff I’ve ever heard, there’s an element of comedy to this track, with Kylie’s acrobatic vocals springing up and down the track faster than a kangaroo on Red Bull. So it’s right to say Kylie’s struck gold with this one: she encapsulates the sound of the song and converts it into her voice, hence why this song feels a bit tongue ‘n’ cheek, yet highly listenable and a worthy contender for single release.
The lyrics are basically about losing inhibitions and just living better by taking risks, but it achieves where the first few tracks failed: it comes of as more than just another clichéd track. “What’s the point in livin’ if you don’t wanna dance?” Kylie questions as part of the vocal riff, although you could argue Kylie hasn’t taken much of a chance with this album at all, but this is a brilliant hidden gem sitting at a lowly track number 8. There’s something about the whole production which works even better than the title track’s, but it just has a little less attitude, hence why I didn’t make it ‘Track Of The Album’.
It even has a REALLY ‘Vogue’ sounding breakdown followed by one of the best things a song like this could provide: a good listen to the music alone, displaying that brilliant hook again amidst an explosion of synths and the bouncy bassline.
09. ‘Too Much’ (2.5 STARS)
Another Stuart Price one, but this one’s sound has a lot more substance, with a rubbery, flatulent bassline and metallic chords. For the first minute or so there’s more stuff going on than a teenagers bedroom floor but it’s enjoyable enough, it even sounds like Kylie’s attempting a trance record! Alas, after that, the song really falls flat and unfortunately comes of as another filler track.
At first this seems to be a charming track with a pulsing bassline but in the end it becomes a song that’s typically Kylie, like the lukewarm ‘Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)’ and ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ with chiming chords shoved crazily over a seemingly haphazard, ‘any-thing-will-go’ production. The first chorus is enjoyable but fails to carry itself through the rest of the song.
When looking at it from a less negative point of few, the song is basically a celebration, and it captures the vibe of elation and ecstasy very well, but put this on repeat and you’ll no longer need to worry about the more annoying efforts from Mika, the Scissor Sisters, Marina & the Diamonds, or Scouting For Girls’ any more: this song sounds like a combination of them all.
“It’s way too much” Kylie tediously repeats over and over again for the chorus which appears to be on repeat until the song finishes. Yeah, we know how you feel, Kylie.
10. ‘Cupid Boy’ (2.0 STARS)
Okay, so by now you’re being driven mad by Kylie’s tissue voice, and this song unfortunately doesn’t help matters with Kylie singing in her highest vocal range ever, over some slow beats and guitars that actually give the impression the song was meant to be a ballad.
“Why don’t you thrill me?/Like you did before” Kylie singing suggestively before what I can only assume is the bridge, which, incidentally feature Kylie’s first attempt at using auto-tune. And yes it’s as listenable microphone feedback. Which is a shame, because the lyrical structure is far better than any of the more recent songs, what’s most annoying is the bridge gets built up and the first note sound brilliant – like something big and heavenly is going to happen – but then something goes as amiss and the bridge falls flat on it synthy, ravey face.
Again, this is a typical Kylie track, which on an album that boasts some of Kylie’s best works since 2000’s ‘Fever’, has absolutely no right to mess up the flow of the album like it does, there’s something about this song that makes it stand out for all the wrong reasons because it is essentially, another filler.
11. ‘Looking For An Angel’ (4.0 STARS)
Opening to the most welcoming of all the introductions on the album, with some apt “Ahhh”s in Kylie’s heavenly voice which, when used properly, can be quite pleasing. This is such a song, it comes as a great relief after the two previous tracks sounded like tracks that didn’t make the cut for the last Santigold album. The song actually sounds heavenly, in both production and vocals, making a very appealing track to rescue the current state of the album’s closing tracks.
The chorus is the right side of catchy – it’s easy to listen to over and over again without coming off as irritating, it’s rousing production and soothing, cotton-wool vocals managed to pole-volt where the last two failed nose-dived – the vocals aren’t annoying, despite the fact you’ve been listening to them for the past three quarters of an hour.
‘Looking For An Angel’ boasts warming strings and a comforting, anthemic chorus with Kylie’s voice showcasing its less annoying side, sailing over a beat that’s energetic and relaxed at the same time, before than song’s cosy crescendo towards the end with plenty of multi-layering of Kylie’s vocals and a beautiful outro that’s not drawn out, but just a simple stop of the music and an echoing “Aaah”; it’s good to know that Kylie put some thought into tracks this far into the album. It’s not the best the album has to offer, but as an album track, it’s brilliance is exemplified by the fact it’s tonnes better than the album’s fillers.
12. ‘Can’t Beat The Feeling’ (4.0 STARS)
Another ridiculous intro, I’ll admit, but it soon irons out into another happy-go-lucky dance number with a very catchy bridge – “You’ve got an energy/Burning like I’ve never seen”, as you can see, Kylie’s eyes are firmly planted on someone who is clearly on fire, but she’d rather celebrate that she “Can’t beat the feeling that I get/When I’m with you”, alas as you can’t tell, the chorus features some pretty clichéd lyrics that my 10 year-old sister could’ve wrote, and does let quite a lot of air out of what was going to be a balloon that would take you to heaven and beyond, unfortunately this balloon won’t take you further than Weston Super-Mare.
However, the end of the chorus does shine through as a great bit of nifty production from Mr. Price, who manages to save the closer from being a complete failure, with plenty of things going on coherently unlike ‘Too Much’s wayward production.
The middle eight is very good though, showing that auto-tune can be used to decent effects and on the rebuild into the final chorus Kylie really gets out a bit of much-needed oomph behind her vocals, which puts the song on the right side of listenable.
So, despite being highly anticipated, only half of ‘Aphrodite’ is really worth the amount of hype surrounding it, of sure it’ll by many means please fans, but to casual listeners this album may come off as ‘just another Kylie record’ thanks to replaceable, clichés like ‘Everything Is Beautiful’, ‘Put You Hands Up (If You Feel Love)’, ‘Too Much’ and ‘Cupid Boy’.
I find it ironic that in that best songs on the album, Kylie can be quoted as saying “Take a chance tonight, and try something new”, and “What’s the point in livin’ if you don’t take a chance?”, well, Kylie, we could ask you the same thing. ‘Aphrodite’ is very good on average; it is by no means a bad record, but it is no doubt… an average record which only sees little improvement on 2007’s ‘X’.
ALBUM RATING: 7.8/10
Download These: ‘All The Lovers’, ‘Get Outta My Way’, ‘Closer’, ‘Aphrodite’.