Monday, November 26, 2007

Kylie Minogue

We received her H&M swimwear line right in time, but when it comes to Kylie Minogue’s actual *profession* (singing, dancing, being three feet tall), we don’t get the goods. At least not yet — the Aussie wonder’s new album *X* drops in the U.K. this week, while all us stateside sloths will wait until February for the glitzy jam.

Unfortunately, delayed release in the states is par for the course with Minogue, whose last two full-length albums, 2002’s *Fever* and 2003’s *Body Language* hit our shore months after their initial debuts. Fortunately this time, thanks to the powers that be (OK, fine, Perez Hilton), we’re in on the scoop. Plenty of *X*’s tracks have surfaced: “Speakerphone,” “Sensitized,” “Stars,” and the first single “2 Hearts” among the flock.

Based on said material, one thing is certain — Kylie loves robot noises. Every track teems with electronically tweaked vocals, a la Cher’s “Believe.” Unlike that immortal singing machine, however, Kylie pairs her vocals with some of the most willingly stupid lyrics of her career. Forget the silly, step-by-step instructions of “The Locomotion” or the crush-struck wails of “Love at First Sight,” because “Speakerphone” goes where no pop song has pranced before: the children’s game “Operation.” In order to muster the dance-paced anatomy lesson, you may find yourself abiding by the track’s dopey, delicious command: “Set your mind on freaky mode.”

“Eyes! Lips! Hearts!” the song yelps, before zipping back to that skeleton rundown. “To your jawbone/ To your neckbone, collarbone/ Let it go on to your backbone / Move it on through your hipbone.”

Sound a little campy so far? Like a song you may have chanted, with full choreography, after the hokey-pokey at a kindergarten picnic? In person, the track also *sounds* distinctly familiar, like Britney Spears’ recent album, which is no surprise considering producers Bloodshy & Avant handled both Spears and Minogue.

Now just a second. Kylie’s always been pop, yes, but hasn’t she, like Madonna, transcended the banality of Spears? Or the transparent sexuality? Naturally, similar production doesn’t necessary give way to an all-out Spears imitation, but the unbridled electronic squeaks and coos feel more than slightly derivative — and, yeah, a little awkward coming from a 40-year-old.

“Stars and “Sensitized” tend to follow Kylie’s tried-and-true routine: dancefloor-filling, inoffensive, perky numbers. And “2 Hearts” is fun but underwhelming, even underwritten. The chorus tries to brassily proclaim, “Two hearts beating together” as novelty. Nope.

While there’s certainly promise within the album’s frenetic energy, we can only hope more of that wholesome, yet still sensual Kylie breaks through on the as-yet-unreleased tracks. At worst we could just end up demanding, “Gimme more,” from our mis-stepping starlet. I won’t further discuss the furor of such an armageddon.

By Louis Virtel

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