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Kylie – Kiss Me Once

Australia’s undisputed pop queen returns to planet pop with the slick sheen of 12th studio album ‘Kiss Me Once’. Here’s our track by track review.

The mighty all conquering Miss Minogue has spent the better part of the past few years in a retrospective mode. The year-long K25 yielded only tidbits of new material (the underrated disco thrash of ‘Timebomb’ and the beautiful lament of ‘Flower’). Kylie’s now cleared the decks with a new management team (hello Roc Nation) the ‘lovers’ (Minogue’s ever faithful fanbase) have awaited the results with baited breaths.

Kylie Minogue – Kiss Me Once

INTO THE BLUE: Kiss’ lead single adheres to the Kylie O.M. of a reserved elegance. Eschewing the explosive bombast of her contemporaries, ‘Blue’ shows its strength in its simplicity. Catchy, but far from instant, yet just try letting it go days later. The anthem for loves lost and lives lived. 8/10

MILLION MILES: produced by Cutfather (Aprhodite’s ‘Get Outta My Way’), ‘Miles’ screams “single!” Echoing the finest elements of the Minogue vintage: radio ready, upbeat, instant and burning. ”I feel so in-vi-si-ble…” Kylie purrs in the middle bridge and delivers her own unique brand of PG temptress in a way no other can. ‘Million Miles’ is the album’s most accessible moment for mass appeal. 9/10

I WAS GONNA CANCEL: Produced by the it man in the hat, Pharrell Williams, is instantly Neptunes swagger-funk that immediately harks back to 2003’s Body Language pop/R&B hybrid template. ‘Cancel’ is a pop self help call to arms. William’s production finesse is evident, Kylie power pop via Stevie Wonder disco-biscuit and delivering the album’s strangest line “Everything is clearer, than a mirror is to woman, just as safe as a dog is to man” like it was meant to be. Alright then. 7.5/10

SEXY LOVE: The first of the trio of sex-tinged titles, ‘Love’ is the ummmm… lovechild of Kylie singles past. A liberal serving of ‘Wow’ echoes throughout this serviceable 80’s throwback. Mid-tempo guitar laced synth pop that never really lifts above 3rd gear when it should soar in its frivolity. 5/10

SEXCERCISE: Written by Australia’s go-to writer/producer dejour, Miss Sia Furler, is Kylie channelling Rihanna temptress through liberal servings of dubstep, flourishes of harps and a whole lotta sweat. Minogue’s vocals are heavily processed throughout and the whole exercise (get it?) is over quicker than an over eager 15 year olds in the back of a car, so it hardly overstays its welcome. A curious number that would have paired well with 2007’s scattered ‘X’ project. 7/10

FEELS SO GOOD: Miss M is not shy from reimagining a track or two from others attempts (Kish Mauve’s 2 Hearts served as X’s first single). ‘Good’ began as a Tom Aspaul’s ‘Indiana’ project, yet feels instantly Kylie, the sort of mid-tempo electro burn she has come to master. ”People come, people go, but I’d like to get to know you now” burns Minogue over the bridge towards a chorus that runs over you like the first summer breeze. Class all the way. 8/10

IF ONLY: Kiss Me Once rarely feels like its pushing pop’s boundaries, but here on this track, helmed by Sky Ferreira, Haim and Vampire Weekend producer Ariel Rechtshaid, Minogue feels like she’s spreading her wings. There’s a danger of overproduction in the wave of sounds coming at you, but with Kylie steering the ship towards this scattered ballad’s big, out of nowhere chorus, the pieces fit. Just. The saving grace is the thought of this number delivered with its deserved arena appeal when the inevitable tour is announce. 7.5/10

LES SEX: Not known for her ‘oh my’ lyrical moments, dropping the casual ‘Take two of these and meet me in the shadows…’ certainly raises a few eyebrows and ‘Les Sex’ makes no apologies in its come hither origins. New York production dynamos MNDR harness Kylie’s sex kitten and craft a brilliantly daft synth pop single worthy track around it. Playfully fun and very KM. 8.5/10

KISS ME ONCE: The second Sia number, and by far the superior of the pair. A celebration of romance rather than sex (hopefully romantic sex, we can only hope), this is how this Aussie pop pairing should sound, a little girly, romantic and with one big chorus that will quickly become a Kylie staple. An ode to triumph over adversity. 9/10

BEAUTIFUL (Feat Enrique Iglesias): Pairing with the album’s only vocal collaborator, the undeniable Mr Iglesias, ‘Beautiful’ (the album’s second single) is vocoder-heavy ballad (think Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ via Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide & Seek’ and you’re halfway there) that’s power lies in its simplicity. Enrique and Minogue’s voices, processed within an inch of their life, could have been incredibly grating or gimmicky, but like some of the finer balladry of the past year, the tenderness on display only enhances the production. Simply beautiful. 9/10

FINE: Closing out ‘Kiss Me Once’, paired with long term producer Karen Poole (Red Blooded Woman, Wow, Timebomb), ‘Fine’ has flourishes of 90’s house, processed hand claps, and a rousing empowerment theme. A perfect bookend for an album celebrating the finer things in life. ‘Turn your face into the sun, sun, sun’ rouses a euphoric Kylie and with an energy such as this, it’s hard to ignore the word of Minogue.

What resonates most with ‘Kiss Me Once’ is the sense of optimism. Kylie, ever the pop chanteuse, along with her refurbished team has crafted the strongest cohesive body of work since 2001’s Fever.

There’s no massive reinvention of sound here, Minogue knows her audience, her sound and has her finger on the pulse of what works for her brand. ‘Once’ at times resembles a sonic scrapbook of Kylie’s finest moments, there’s touches of Aphrodite’s layered sheen, X’s heavier electro-pop, Body Language’s R&B kitsch and even a few nods to the ever enduring PWL records days. And that’s not a bad thing. Welcome back Kylie. We’ve missed you.

Listen to Kylie’s Kiss Me Once album via Rdio below.

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mcnaugha said on the 11th Mar, 2014

Hmm, I think your review is upside down as though you're down under or something. I think this album is so far from cohesive. It's a bit of a mish-mash of past Parlophone albums as though they asked 'what were you doing the last time your sales were high?'. It is heavy on the Fever era sound, perhaps more so judged from the b-sides. At least you've recognised the standout nature of "If Only". I've listened to the album twice and I liked it even less the second time with the exception of "If Only". "Beautiful" is so out of place it's unreal. It's clear self-indulgence. I literally can't bear it. The first half of the album, Into The Blue aside, is totally forgettable. It's a shame really. This happens almost every Kylie album now. There's amazing tracks in the sessions but somebody, possibly Kylie herself, has no taste whatsoever and shouldn't be selecting the album tracks. The b-sides often turn out to be of better quality and end up taken more to super fans' hearts. Believe it or not I'm a super fan, having jumped on a plane with 3 days to spare to see her return to the stage after cancer then followed her around Oz, having been at the Body Language launch concert and every other concert several times. I just stay objective and feel I have an ear for what's best going to be taken to people's hearts and minds. I want the best for Kylie but with none of the artists I'm a fan of, I'm not going to be a 'yes man'. True creativity can't progress when you can't take criticism.