samedi 10 juillet 2010

Kylie Minogue's 11th album "Aphrodite"

Last monday was released the much anticipated 11th studio album by australian born and european becomed princess of pop Kylie Minogue, named Aphrodite. After her tenth X (rated) CD, it seemed our Kylie was going all warm and sensually sexy for a back-to-her-roots comeback album. It's been a couple of times now that I've started listening to it but I wanted to wait until I had the proper CD in the palm of my hands, touch it, feel it in its deluxe edition glossy booklet, to finally release my full review of what sounds like one of the highlights of 2010.

When you look for reviews for Aphrodite around the net, it seems nearly everybody, amongst her fans or in the music sites, loves it and call it her best album since Fever (in 2001...) or even Light Years (in 2000). Supervised by Stuart Price, the man who famously produced Madonna's Confessions on the dance floor or the Scissor Sisters' latest Night Work, Seal's System but is also the man behind the Zoot Woman project. All his productions or remixes mix an atmospheric and elegant atmosphere with electronical synthé sounds and dance beats. That sums up perfectly what Aphrodite is : a classy dance/pop masterpiece.

01 ALL THE LOVERS 3:20 10/10
(Jim Eliot / Mima Stilwell) Produced by Jim Eliot. Additional Production & Mix by Stuart Price.
The CD starts with the first single that was chosen to launch the album worldwide and All the lovers, from the first time I heard it, was a pure joyful and sexy anthem in Kylie's book. It starts all minimalistic with instrumental intro behind Kylie's whispering sexy voice all along the two first verses then it all begins with the first chorus, anthemic and etheral but powerful with a nice ascending musical structure. Next verses go back with the same hypnotical loops and then back with a chorus that adds some more joyful backing vocals. Then the song falls down into a moment of sonic intimacy with Kylie's voice, warm and haunting until the orgasmic musical bridge explodes before final chorus comes back and the song is already ending and it needs a replay, again, then again once more, and again again... All the lovers may not be the instant pop song some wanted for her comeback (and I can't believe it hasn't been number 1 in the UK charts!) but it's an addictive haunting one that, just like with Can't get you out of my head, you cannot escape.
I needed an extended version of this dreamy pop perfection but the single suffers from a very disappointing remix package, except for the Wawa full anthem. A spanish version, Los Amores, is noticeable though, for once Kylie treats her with another language on singing duties.
A last final word about the people behind it : It is the kish Mauve duo (Jim Eliot & Mima Stilwell), already responsible for Kylie's 2007 comeback single 2 Hearts, that wrote and produced All the lovers while Stuart Price added his final Aphrodite touch, like on most of the tracks here.

02 GET OUTTA MY WAY 3:38 9,75/10
(Lucas Secon / Damon Sharpe / Peter Wallevik / Daniel Davidsen / Mich Hansen)
Produced by Cutfather, Peter Wallevik & Daniel Davidsen. Co-Produced by Damon Sharpe, Lucas Secon & Stuart Price. Mixed by Mads Nilsson & Stuart Price.

Track 2's intro is all piano and disco Ooh ooh ooh before the real song starts and Get outta my way builds up into Love at first sight part 2, a full-on disco/house dance/pop number that has already been confirmed as second single. Very energetic and perfect to shake your ass on the dance floor, it is a favourite on every forum in Aphrodite's tracklisting. I really like it and am happy to see it being the next single (EMI is so used to wrongly choose Kylie's singles...) but I can't help but think there's a litlle something missing to challenge All the lovers' perfection. Maybe it is just that Get outta my way wasn't written for Kylie but was picked for her ; like most tracks on this album, Kylie's co-writing credits are nowhere here and I've always liked her recent songs when they were really hers. On the remix team, there seem to be 7th Heaven and Bimbo Jones listed so I shall melt in club heaven as soon as I hear these ...except they could not be chosen by EMI !? What the fuck !? That is all her fans need : pure cheesy disco/house remixes. Please, don't call hyped electro remixers again... mix destruction has never been my cup fo tea.

(Fin Dow-Smith / Miriam Nervo / Olivia Nervo) Produced by Starsmith. Co-Produced by Stuart Price. Mixed by Starsmith & Stuart Price.
Next in line is another sure-to-be single that shall appeal to both her european and american markets. Put your hands up (if you feel love) don't waste any time with Kylie's laid-back but pulsating intro that explodes into an addictive chorus with the title line that stick to your brain and never leaves. While All the lovers was the soft IN side of Aphrodite's perfection, this one expresses the glamorous and show-OUT side of it. Here again, I hope a load of remixers will add their touch to it : I would love to hear a Moto Blanco and a Cahill remix of it, and a Dave Audé and Peter Rauhofer for the US too.

04 CLOSER 3:09 8/10
(Stuart Price / Beatrice Hatherley) Produced & Mixed by Stuart Price.
is the first song by Stuart Price and it sounds odd but nice, between baroque and disco, with what sounds like an hysterical harpsichord rhythm all through the song and an hypnotical chorus. I have a vision of a Kylie dressed in a divalicious extravaganza singing behind an Amadeus-like mad pianist destroying his piano with his furious fingers while the world crashes all around them. The song ends as if it never has been anything but a short interlude to entertain us and make us wait for what's more to come ; album filler for sure, but with experimentation. Maybe I would have loved to see it as a Bside only to let other proper songs have a place in Aphrodite's short tracklisting. [You can note that, after Love at first sight, this is the second time Kylie has a song that shares its title with one of her previous songs, Closer being a 1992 Bside for Finer feelings, back in her Stock/Waterman days].

(Tim Rice-Osley / Fraser T.Smith) Produced & Mixed by Fraser T.Smith.
"Beautiful... beautiful..."
sings our Kylie to get this Keane leader's co-written anthemic up-tempo ballad started and it sounds rather beautiful indeed. While the chorus is all strong but breezy, the verses are dreamy and mellow and Everything is beautiful is what sounds the most like a ballad on Aphrodite, with its haunting backing vocals and tempo-down bridge and outro with piano. This is one of the few tracks that have no involvment from Stuart Price too.

06 APHRODITE 3:45 8,5/10
(Nerina Pallot / Andy Chatterley) Produced by Nerina Pallot & Andy Chatterley. Additional Production & Mix by Stuart Price.
Next is the title track and an intro with raw percussions and a march rhythm. Aphrodite is maybe the song that sounds the more like a transition with Kylie's previous electro/R&B work, with its chaotic rhythm and party vibe. The "Can you feel me in stereo" gimmick line is the real memorable moment of the song, although the verses are good and the chorus powerful. I feel this song is more of a live favourite than a future single. We already hear and see what Steve Anderson and William Baker will do with this new Nerina Pallot song, and Kylie will be an absolute diva singing this on stage with dancers all aroudn her, for sure.

07 ILLUSION 3:21 7/10
(Stuart Price / Kylie Minogue) Produced & Mixed by Stuart Price.
is another Stuart Price song, co-written with Kylie this time and it is her first co-written credit on Aphrodite. Illusion starts all dreamy with haunting vocals before a beep-ing loop get the rhythm started and it is an electronical mid-tempo to fill the gap between first half of the album and the final part. I admit this is the song I like the less, but with a 7/10 note, Aphrodite's down-track scores better than X...

08 BETTER THAN TODAY 3:25 8,5/10
(Nerina Pallot / Andy Chatterley) Produced by Nerina Pallot & Andy Chatterley. Additional Production & Mix by Stuart Price.
I'm glad Better than today hasn't finished like the White diamond fiasco ...I mean first be revealed on tour as a new track, then to be included as a highlight on Kylie's next studio album, then not make it and never get a proper release in a studio version that sounds like the one everybody who liked in live wanted to hear it. White diamond has just appeared as a ballad bonus on her tour's DVD and we still have to hear the disco/pop original studio version -yet- but Better than today, the first Nerina Pallot song Kylie included on her American show last year, IS indeed included on Aphrodite and it fits well. I swear while listening to it again now that I still believe it is a Jake Shears penned disco track ! It is a cheerful disco inspired upbeat sing-a-long song that will instantly make you feel good -or better- and you will find your feet tapping in rhythm with a huge need to get up, clap and hands and dance in retro cowboy style maybe. One complain though : the track's end ! it sounds roughly cut !!

09 TOO MUCH 3:16 9,5/10
(Calvin Harris / Jake Shears / Kylie Minogue) Produced & Mixed by Calvin Harris.
The club sounds of today are back on Too much's intro and there's even a powerful grandpiano moment just before the chorus, which is very strong and catchy, for a whole uptempo song that may be a contender for a single release. Produced & mixed by Calvin Harris (without Stuart Price involved), this disco inspired song (that he co-wrote with Kylie and the Scissor Sisters' leader that I was just talking about previously) sounds like a hit, with bits of nowadays electro sounds on top of cheesy eurodance synthés, but it sounds perfect ! Trendy remixes could apply on this one, even though the original version just needs none.

10 CUPID BOY 4:26 9/10
(Sebastien Ingross / Magnus Lideball / Nick Clow / Luciana Caporaso) Produced & Mixed by Stuart Price, Sebastien Ingrosso & Magnus.
Wasn't I talking about trendy club sounds ? Cupid boy, here it comes !!! Luciana and her man on the writing team with swedish house maestro Sebastien Ingrosso & friend on board with Stuart Price to make it a club anthem that must have been hard editing as it ends up in a 4'26 form that shall be shortened more if becomes a single one day. This track is a strong mixture of haunting vocals with childish accents sometimes, a wall-of-sound pre-chorus of pure house and an anthemic chorus that punches you straight in your face and shall leave you knocked-out on the dancefloor. I like it very much but I must admit this one is just too much dance over pop and my pure pop heart is suffering a little from this heavy club banger.

11 LOOKING FOR AN ANGEL 3:49 9,75/10
(Stuart Price / Kylie Minogue) Produced & Mixed by Stuart Price.
Take Illusion's credits and see how the same team can do better second time around. Minogue and Price wrote this wonderful and charming addictive feel-good pop song, all breezy and fun-pop, and I can't help falling in love with this maybe cheesy happy song but I would love to see it released and get a trance remix treament : even though Stuart made it sound dance/pop, Looking for an angel has all it takes to become a full trance highlight on continental radios ; maybe only promotional ?

12 CAN'T BEAT THE FEELING 4:10 10/10
(Hannah Robinson / Pascal Gabriel / Bjorg Fjordheim / Matt Prime / Richard X) Produced by Stuart Price, Pascal Gabriel & Bjorg Fjordheim. Mixed by Stuart Price.
I hate that but I can't put a name on the song that Can't beat the feeling's intro sounds like... ! Either retro and disco, but still dance/pop, like back in the Light years era, this Pascal Gabriel reminds me of why I so loved Kylie's comeback of 2000 : Mixing hi-nrg, disco, house to still make fun-pop and sound brilliant, camp and classic Kylie, Aphrodite ends (in its CD version) as a back-to-her roots tribute song ...AND I LIKE IT !!

So now my CD has ended, I have got to say I HATE the way EMI treats us : even in its deluxe edition, we get no additional track, just a classy glossy booklet with loads of beautiful photos of our new incarnation of the goddess of love, but even NO lyrics (!!!) and no bonus songs, even in digital... I still haven't taken the time to watch the bonus DVD that includes some live performances from her american tour, the making of All the lovers video (but NOT the video !!), a photo gallery and the behind-the-scene of this photo shoot... That is what I do NOT want as bonus... So why didn't I just buy the classic CD version ? Because the glossy booklike version would look better in my CD collection...

And what upsets me more is that there are some bonus songs elsewhere...
First from the usual iTunes digital world with an additional Xenomania song :
13 MIGHTY RIVERS 4:01 8,5/10
(Miranda Cooper / Brian Higgins / Carla Marie Williams / Jason Resch / Gerard O'Connell / Jaxon Bellina / Tim Deal) Produced by Xenomania.
The rhythm reminds me of Can't get you out of my head in the intro then the song evolves into a nice upbeat song but there's no real leading line to stick to your brain, just a moody dance/pop song that maybe didn't fit in the original Stuart Price tracklisting.

Another bonus comes like usual on the japanese CD...
14 HEARTSTRINGS 3:16 8,75/10
(Miranda Cooper / Brian Higgins / Matt Gray / Jason Resch / Kieran Jones / Gerard O'Connell / Jaxon Bellina) Produced by Xenomania.
...And it is another Kylie-inspired song written/produced by the Xenomania team, a little more laid-back than Mighty rivers, but still with a feel-good summery rhythm. Once again, the song lacks a strong chorus line that could have made it a place on the standard CD and hope for a single release, even though I find Heartstrings catchier than their other track.

Final bonus is All the lovers Bside that I have added in my Aphrodite playlist on PC and mp3-player :
15 GO HARD OR GO HOME 3:43 10/10
(Lucas Secon / Damon Sharpe / Thomas Sardof / Daniel Davidsen / Mich Hansen)
Produced by Cutfather, Thomas Sardof & Daniel Davidsen. Co-Produced by Damon Sharpe & Lucas Secon. Mixed by Mads Nilsson.

The song starts all accoustic with a guitar then Kylie's first verse but the pre-chorus uplifts the song into a super-catchy number that I CAN'T GET ENOUGH !!! Go hard or go home should have been on the CD for sure and if all Aphrodite's leftovers are of that level, I want to see them leak or appear on future Bsides/singles digital EP very soon !! Add to the upbeat rhythm the saucy chorus line and you'll know this one is gonna be a favourite for all the lovers...

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