Album Review: The sonic glitter of Kylie Minogue’s “Disco” shines a light in our darkness
This album review is by guest blogger David Tudor
In 2018, Aussie pop queen Kylie Minogue‘s chronological milestone (she turned 50) almost coincided with a professional milestone – in the form of yet another UK #1 album titled “Golden”. Her arena tour for the album spanned 33 concerts across Europe and Australia. The centerpiece of Kylie’s 2018 “Golden” tour was a “Studio 54” (a legendary disco nightclub in New York City that closed in 1986) segment wherein disco ruled supreme. It was a non-stop juggernaut of what Kylie herself described as “the biggest and best disco in town”. It featured a mix of new and old Kylie disco classics one after the other invoking an unbridled sense of euphoria for those that attended the concerts. This section may have been business as usual for Kylie back then but it undoubtedly inspired the stylistic direction that she has consciously pursued on her fifteenth album aptly titled “Disco”. Despite having dabbled with the country music genre (albeit with a generous sprinkle of dance music) on “Golden”, the magnetic pull towards her inner Disco diva was irresistible.
The sound that permeates through her 15th album “Disco” would have made the perfect sonic backdrop for the “Studio 54” segment of her “Golden tour” concerts. The songs’ lyrics brim with hope, positivity, and a much-needed escapism from the grim collective reality that has defined 2020 for everyone across the world.
“Magic“, the album’s opener and second single (in my humble opinion, one of the best singles of 2020) evokes 80s disco of the likes of Shalamar and Kool and the Gang. The song is unabashed in its desire to get listeners dancing and truly believing that better times lie ahead. It is followed by funky grooves “Miss a thing” and “Real groove” which are there to prepare listeners for a full on sonic disco thrill. Strikingly reminiscent of the 70s, “Monday blues” and “Supernova” paint a vivid picture of dancing on one of those neon dancefloors John Travolta strutted on in “Saturday night fever“. Lead single “Say something” has all the hallmarks of a Kylie classic – a mix of yearning for a time when we can all break free from the isolation that we have succumbed to this year and can come together again and be as one. As Kylie tends to end most of her tours with the lead song from her latest album this is a likely closer for her eventual “Disco” tour.
“Last chance” is the sonic lovechild of ABBA and the Bee Gees at the height of their disco prime. There is a brief respite from the onslaught of high BPMs (beats per minute) at the start of “Where does the DJ go” before that too rattles along with cow bell sounds, hand claps, funky guitar and strings. It’s the kind of camp that only Kylie can get away with. It is in a vein similar to that of songs that include “Your disco needs you” and “Step back in time” and snuggles up easily with that slice of her back catalogue. With such a formidable back catalogue it would be easy for Kylie to rest on her laurels and tour the hits, but thankfully she relentlessly aspires for more of them. This album will stand high alongside her classics live and several of them are destined to be perennial live favorites in the years to come. Indeed, “I Love It” would have fit comfortably alongside the rest of the songs on the “Fever” album. “Dance floor darling“, with its progressive increase in tempo and an explicit nod to “Studio 54” on the songs lyrics has all the trappings of a future single. Its potential in a live setting is immense. “Unstoppable“, one of the album’s weaker moments, does not quite live up to its title, but it still fits in perfectly with the rest of the songs.
The album closes with another song of absolute hope. On “Celebrate you” Kylie sings to a friend ‘Mary, Mary’ who may be a real person or a personification of her fans. I suspect it is the latter and lines such as “Everything I like about myself is better with you” exemplify the symbiotic love affair between Kylie and her fans. The song, delivered with absolute warmth and sincerity is one that only Kylie could pull off. Hopefully it is released as a single as it’s definitely something to ease us through the tough times.
The album’s deluxe edition tracks are fun but in the days of Kylie’s chart glory days would have undoubtedly been relegated to B-side status. That’s not to slight them as she’s made some great bonus tracks.
“Disco” stands up with her classic albums, maybe not at the top, but nowhere near the bottom. After 33 years few artists make anything to better their classics, but “Disco” delivers a bunch of party tunes that when we eventually get the tour, even if that’s a few years away will fit in with all the classics and will be quite the celebration.
With hook-laden melodies and string arrangements as ornate embellishments, “Disco” weaves an imagery that is an antithesis to our current collective isolation. Kudos to the Aussie pop queen Kylie Minogue for still doing what she does best in the tough year that 2020 has been. The likes of Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa and Jessie Ware are all delivering similar styles and have obviously been influenced by her, but it’s reassuring to know that no one does Kylie quite like, well, Kylie.
Here is a full-length video clip of “Magic” – the album’s second single:
STAR RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
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