Kylie Minogue: Aphrodite (Album Review)

by Bradley Stern

In case you didn’t know, Kylie Minogue is a legend.

Despite the pop singer’s unjustly limited visibility in the North American market, Kylie Minogue is a beloved musical icon in most other territories around the world. Her sheer popularity and nearly revered status is to such a degree that the only real way to describe it would be–at the risk of a barrage of anonymous heckling–to that of her contemporary, Madonna.

It is a wonder to think, then, that after over 23 years in the music industry, 11 studio albums, and over 68 million albums sold, following some of the most incredible international career highs and record-breaking accomplishments of a female musician in modern pop history, Kylie Minogue has only just now crafted one of her best records to date.

When it was announced that Kylie would begin working with legendary pop producer Stuart Price in the middle of 2009, the collaboration was almost universally celebrated amongst fans. Then again, it wasn’t altogether that surprising of a collaboration either.

Price is, of course, responsible for some truly killer modern disco records, including The KillersDay & Age, Frankmusik‘s 3 Words, and the Scissor Sisters‘ upcoming Night Work, and of course, Madonna’s legendary Confessions On A Dance Floor. Realistically, it was only a matter of time before the two would unite.

As a result, Aphrodite is exactly the kind of record that one would expect when crossing Kylie Minogue with Stuart Price. That is–one of the most sleek, cohesive releases of her entire catalog. To put it simply: Yes, it does live up to the hype.

The album launches with its first single, “All The Lovers.” Currently a Top 10 single in the UK, the song is a solid representation of the bulk of Aphrodite, though far from the finest cut on the record. In fact, the soaring chorus and glittering electronica offer only a taste of what’s to come.

With much of the record, the producers on the job have taken Kylie’s disco diva connotation and added a more complex, edgier layer of dance production. Cuts like the Calvin Harris-produced, Jake Shears-penned “Too Much” are evidence of this next level sound, sounding something like a thousand glitter-filled balloons bursting all at once inside of an intergalactic vortex.

“Get Outta My Way,” the projected second single off of the album, is bound to be another success on the charts. It also happens to be a somewhat rare turn of defiance for Kylie, a singer best characterized by swooning love ditties and breathy enticements. This song, as Kylie announced to the crowd at Splash before performing the Aphrodite mega-mix, is about respect.

The singer’s confidence is only pushed further with the album’s Nerina Pallot-penned title track. Showcasing Kylie at her bossiest in some time, “Aphrodite” explodes with a militant, foot-stomping beat and a searing bolt of fiery energy: “I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty / Don’t you mess with me, you don’t want to fight me!” she warns throughout the song’s storming chorus. Judging by the fact that both this song and “Get Out Of My Way” double as the album’s strongest selections, it’s safe to say Kylie wears her sass well.

In “Closer” and “Illusion,” two personal favorite cuts, Minogue and Price divine dark disco magic: The former, a slow-building haunter that shares connections to both her older work (“Confide in Me”) and a glimmer of Madonna’s Confessions; the latter a complex mesh of ’90’s house and Ace of Base-like synthesized bliss. Throw in a relentless throbbing bass and a few sex sessions worth of heavy breathing, and you’ve got nothing short of musical bliss.

Later on, both “Looking For An Angel” and “Everything is Beautiful” function as nothing short of definitions of the word “lush.” Warm, layered slices of piano-encrusted electronica stack one on top of the other as the singer’s lulling voice climbs over the melody : “If I lie with you long enough, I can see the things I’m dreaming of,” she coos during the song’s chorus, “Let’s go through the ritual, until everything is beautiful.”

Then there’s “Cupid Boy,” an unstoppable tour de force of jagged electro, moody guitar strums, and impossible girlish delight. The song features a surging, sonic-powered bridge of distorted vocals and an utter jaw-dropper of a chorus, colored by hard synth rhythms, an angelic chorus, and swelling, echoed swirls. “If only you knew, I shimmer for you,” Kylie coquettishly offers as the song begins, forever producing the same glee-filled moment of euphoria with each listen thereafter. Yes friends–this is what would be referred to as a “Kylie moment.”

But the opening moment of “Cupid Boy” is far from the only “Kylie moment” of the album–the euphoria felt during the middle eight of “All The Lovers,” the glitchy dance breakdown at the end of “Can’t Beat The Feeling,” the hands-in-the-air glee that is the chorus of “Put Your Hands Up (For Love)”–all of these fleeting moments of divinity only add more glow the hot pink, heart-shaped aura that surrounds all things Kylie.

At a time when a new musical endeavor made by a woman in pop over forty may end up looking like a desperate attempt to latch onto the latest trends and cheap production tricks of the girls on top at the moment, Kylie Minogue’s latest could not be perceived as more authentic to her artistry: Aphrodite is literally the essence of Kylie in audio form. The sparkling instrumentals, the euphoric, angelic coos–everything in this album is an authentic, unapologetic encapsulation the stuff of Kylie Minogue.

This isn’t just an incredible album, or even an album of the year (although it most certainly qualifies to win the title for both). As with Madonna’s Confessions or her own sister’s defining triumph, Neon Nights, Aphrodite is a complete and utter musical moment–a release for the ages, and ultimately, a classic in the making that will go on to become a glittering milestone in Kylie Minogue’s already illustrious career.

  • Gregg

    Okay, I gave it a few days. With Aphrodite, everything is beautiful (lol).
    Major recant of past remarks. Album of the year, decade, forever.

  • amir

    you are SPOT ON!!!!

  • http://stephenferosh.wordpress.com Stephen

    Yes, yes, and YES. Just absolute perfection in audio form.

  • http://twitter.com/ivan6891 Ivan

    I really enjoyed reading this review, you basically put into (very well written) words how i feel about the album =]

  • Nathan

    This is really good review, if not great. It sums up everything I thought while listening to it for the first (and thousands) of times. This is precisely what I wanted from Kylie!

  • Ray

    I could not agree more with this review, being a fan since Light Years this album could not be more perfect in its complete lushness

  • http://www.daneeeboy.com Daneeeboy

    I’m not sure I’d agree entirely. I don’t think the album is quite as lush or rounded as Light Years, or as musically explorative and dance minded as Fever, and I would rate them both before Aphrodite. But I do think Aphrodite is a welcome return to form in that it is Kylie doing something she hasn’t done since 2002; a dancepop album.

    I’m glad beyond all belief that it’s not bogged down by the shoulder-padded shadow of Lady Gaga, and I find the result highly enjoyable, but I don’t think that anyone involved has brought their ‘a-game’. I hope, above all else, that this re-establishes Kylie as a go-to girl for gay-centric dancepop. She’s due another Fever moment, and the beauty of being disco-making Kylie is that she doesn’t really age, which leaves the door open for a serious dance record in the future. But I’d definitely agree that this album is very Kylie in its essence. ‘Unapologetic’ is a good word!

  • Michael

    The album is very Kylie; and it does not remind me of Confessions, which is a job well done on Stuart’s part.
    I think with this album, as we’ve seen so far, Kylie is actually proud and inspired by her work. Her energy and spirit is lifted, and that is what’s most important!

  • http://slow Anonymous

    Neon nights sucks!!!

  • HeBop

    Wow what a glowing review. I must say I totaly agree with you. I have a Kylie moment with every listen!

  • http://www.freshyesh.com Shan

    Much better with your bit about the title track added in :)

  • http://hotmail jack

    all her songs sound alike same old tempo very boring not a good singer!!never liked her music

  • http://dustindrorbaugh.com/html/news.php?Kylie-Minogue-Aphrodite-Album-Review-11 Dustin

    The problem with “Aphrodite” is that it contains so many tracks that have the potential to be used as radio-friendly singles… I’m amazed that “All the Lovers” was picked as the album’s lead single since its one of the more lackluster tracks on the album. My picks for singles would be “Get Outta My Way”, “Put Your Hands Up”, “Better Than Today”, “Can’t Beat The Feeling” and “Aphrodite”.

    A direct, concise album that’s bothered about getting you on a dance floor, “Aphrodite” aims at making sure you have a good time and wants to keep you there for the next 12 tracks. The album’s producer, Stuart Price succeeded at creating a house party feel for the record- with each track building on the last, at which largely “Aphrodite” succeeds.

    “Aphrodite” is the true successor to Kylie’s “FEVER” album. It’s back-to-basics Kylie. It’s a cohesive, precisely thought out record that slots in more as a progression from “Light Years” and “Fever” than “Body Language” and “X”. The latter two – while having a few classic Kylie moments – suffered from a lack of direction or in X’s case, too many.

    Visit http://dustindrorbaugh.com/html/news.php?Kylie-Minogue-Aphrodite-Album-Review-11 for a track by track review, reviews of the singles released off the album, chart performance and insights on how the album was made.

  • Phill

    Utter JOY!! Flamboyant perfection!! I’m going to love this album for a long, long, long time to come!!!

  • Anonymous

    Kylie’s one of the best Album yet !! loving it …kylie Rocks!!

  • Sylfi

    This album was just one long Kylie moment for me. And I thank PopJustice for introducing both me and Kylie to the term!

  • http://www.ainsophaur.us (m)

    This review is pretty dead-on. Although I feel it doesn’t have the stomp of X tracks like “Like a Drug”, it has a cohesiveness that was definitely lacking in X. She did what I was hoping she would do, which was to work with a team of good writers and have a really good producer Quality Control everything, which is exactly what she did. Stuart Price knows exactly what he’s doing. This isn’t really a “Club” kind of record, I feel it’s more of an “at home” release BUT It’s so damn good: it marries the dance floor aspects with ballad parts within the songs…something that X didn’t have, making it (X) seem kinda jumbled in the end.

    Anyways, love your reviews!

  • http://hotmail jack

    sorry not a fan never have been sounds all pop and no substance how many writers!! can she not write her own material singing not great

  • http://twitter.com/MyTrainIsOff Katrina-SydCherrHill

    My only criticism and this is only my own feeling, but I think it’s too streamlined and none of the songs (Bar Cupid Boy, Too Much, If You Feel Love and Aphrodite) stand out on their own as songs you just feel like playing!

  • Guillaume

    Wow! Thes best review I’ve read of my favorite album of all time! Aphrodite IS an amazing album, some people might not like it… but it doesn’t make it any less good. So glad you gave it 5/5!!!

  • Guillaume

    Wow! Thes best review I’ve read of my favorite album of all time! Aphrodite IS an amazing album, some people might not like it… but it doesn’t make it any less good. So glad you gave it 5/5!!!