Friday, June 25, 2010

Aphrodite in the affirmative

Leaks, whether they're of the petroleum or digital varieties, can't seem to be contained anywhere in the world these days. The affliction has even spread to everyone's favorite, Aussie, pop rocket.

So, put your filthy hands together for Kylie Minogue! "Aphrodite", her eleventh longplayer, has splash landed a full ten days before street date. Thank you, interwebs!

The leak spread very quickly yesterday. In fact, if you were on a Twitter platform like Tweetdeck you could see every gay in the worldwide village as they passed around the leak links. A collective gay gasp of joy could be heard as gaggles of Kylie enthusiasts downloaded the full length elpee in all of its digital glory. It was certainly more pleasurable than a swarm of vuvuzelas.

Please, as a songwriter and producer, I implore you to always purchase your music legally. I have already pre-ordered the deluxurious edition of "Aphrodite" from iTunes which features "Mighty Rivers", a bonus track which I have yet to hear, along with some video footage from Kylie's 2009, maiden trek across the US. And it doesn't end there. Because I'm Kylie obsessed, I ordered the standard CD, the limited edition CD and the vinyl. There goes my grocery shopping out the window for the month, kittens!

Side note... Someone at EMI should lose their job over this. But enough of that noise.

Second side note... There will be no mention of Madonna or Lady Gaga in this entry. It's a cheap, easy and lazy comparison. Completely unnecessary.

With that out of the way, here's my handy overview of "Aphrodite" after nearly twenty five listens through.

First single, "All The Lovers", now in context of the entire album, is a more mellow introduction than would be expected. It glistens softly. The anthemic chorus has remained a giant, candy earworm since it leaked more than a month ago. Euphoric and slightly plaintive.

"Get Out Of My Way", purported to be the second single, is chirpy, aggressive and driving. The "hey"- thankfully, NOT followed by the expected "ho" - is subtly repeated throughout the chorus and adds to the layers of fun. Nice use of "zombie" in the first verse.

"Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)" feels very 90s in spots. Perhaps it's the pulsing, staccato synths, the occasional piano and the way the delay is treated on the vocals. I wanna say it reminds me of Bizarre Inc. Can't quite put my finger on it. You can hear the collaborative efforts of Stuart Price's 80s leanings and Starsmith's penchant for 90s house and rave references all melding together in a glorious rush of energy.

Apparently, harpsichords are all the rage in pop music these days. Fourth track, "Closer", starts with a metronomic, slightly baroque intro followed by dark, moody synths and a lot of Kylie cooing™.

Tim Rice-Oxley, the man with the best name in pop, takes a little time out from Keane and pens one of the album's highlights. "Everything Is Beautiful" brings the tempo down a touch and delivers some of the loveliest lyrical moments on "Aphrodite". The song is shimmery and summery. It has the chord changes you expect from a Keane song, especially in the prechorus. Yet, it doesn't immediately sound like TRO and co. despite him having a hand in the production. In fact, to these ears, it almost has a splash of the Minneapolis sound of Jam & Lewis in spots.

Next up is the title track. This is probably my favorite moment on the elpee. It's smack in the middle of the listening "experience". It's the raison d'être for this clutch of Kylie songs. It starts out with the militaristic, drum line rhythms first put on public display by Ms. Stefani. Thankfully, any similarities to "Hollaback Girl" end there. The chorus explodes in a monolithic burst of cinematic synths, handclaps and a stuttered, chanted vocal from Ms. Minogue. By the end of each phrase in the chorus, you'll be shouting "alrigh-eet!" and punching your fist in the air. You've been warned! The breakdown brings back the early 90s rave influence which is woven neatly and nearly undetectably throughout the album. The middle eight reminds me of "Pacific" by 808 State. This is BEGGING to be a single.

"Illusion" almost sounds as if it might have been a leftover from "X". The chunky rhythms and quirky keyboard riffs bring that album to mind. It's the first of three tunes where Kylie had a hand in the writing. Not the strongest song on the album. But after six amazing slabs of au current pop, it's kind of nice to have something a little less direct. Clearly, this is her introspective moment. We know how Kylie likes her "cosmic" thoughts.

Track eight was first debuted on Kylie's US trek late last year. It's the second composition on the album by earthy, singer songwriter, Narina Perllot. The first of her contributions is the title track. "Better Than Today" has a very different feel to it. It's a bouncy number with a rubbery bass and bears only a passing resemblance to "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by her good mates and pop peers, Scissor Sisters.

Which brings us nicely around to "Too Much" which was penned by Kylie with Calvin Harris and Scisster Jake Shears. Calvin's hyperactive, effervescent synth antics are pushed to the fore accompanied by an insistent, ringing, dinging bell which commands you to trot around your living room like a jackalope. At least that's the effect it has on me.

Things get a little silly and throwaway with "Cupid Boy". It's probably my least favorite song on the album. It starts out with a low slung, bass line with a hint of New Order about it. Easily the rock out moment on "Aphrodite" punctuated by the sound of steam bursts throughout.

Kylie's "Viva La Vida" moment slots in at track ten. At least, that's the immediate and obvious reference point upon the first listen through "Looking For An Angel". Seemingly everyone has incorporated numerous permutations of Coldplay's string intro over the last few years. It's de rigeur these days. The default, pop reference of choice. For a brief moment, it almost sounds like the strings in Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting". The song is another frothy number with more Kylie coos™ throughout. It's Kylie's second Stuart Price collab on the album and her third co-write overall.

We're back to the disco throwdown with "Can't Beat This Feeling" which reminds me of "Love At First Sight", the third single plucked from "Fever". It's another funky, Jam & Lewis inspired number with buzzy synths and Princely keyboard squiggles. Another contender for single. In fact, if the music biz still operated on the platform before the world wide web took over, Parlophone could easily lift five singles from "Aphrodite" and still have two killer tracks left over.

In short, "Aphrodite" is glorious. The perfect elixir for these desperate times. After one listen you'll be fierce and feeling mighty.


  1. we echo a lot of the same thoughts. i'm so happy people are loving the title track. i for some reason thought i would be a minority, but no - it seems it must shine as a single (or be one of those tracks that desperately needed to be but wasn't a la Your Disco - in the UK anyway)... there's an overflowing of positive vibes within the album and it's quite lovely.

  2. I am not all technical and wordy about music but I have to agree. It is a very good consistent pop album. I should stop smirking at the "I'm a Golden Girl, I'm a Aphrodite" line as it makes me think of Bea Arthur.

  3. Thanks for the review, Vinny. I've got it on preorder and so far I've resisted the temptation to listen to the leaks! Sounds like it'll be worth the wait.

  4. I can't stop listening to "Can't Beat This Feeling," try as I might. I honestly can't remember the last time another pop album had such a storming hit to close things out... oh, wait, yes I can: "Light Years."

  5. ooh I see an XO slapdown in here!