Much has been made over the years of the different eras of Kylie Minogue. Her absolutely restless creativity has carried her from pop to indie to country and now to disco. Still, talk of “eras” might be somewhat misleading. Through all of them, Kylie has stayed true to her strengths, preferring to make small changes around the edges to her brand of pop rather than jump into a new style with two feet. With a career as long and celebrated as hers to show for it, it’s hard to blame her.
For Disco, (★★★★☆) her aptly-titled 15th album, she has followed Lady Gaga in abandoning a brief foray into country to make a dazzling return to dancepop. Kylie reminds us that unlike many of her peers, her consistency has always set her apart and been key to her success. From album to album, her ear for a catchy hook and an infectious dance rhythm have allowed her to turn out one reliable hit after another, and this album is no exception. From beginning to end, Disco is full of the pop brilliance we have come to expect from her, and any of the tracks could easily stand alone as a dancefloor anthem.
The Disco era of Kylie that this is already being called is not so much a new Kylie as a return to an approach that allowed her to dominate international charts with dancepop hits. “Say Something” and “Magic,” the first singles to be released, are instant dancefloor hits, classic Kylie pop with a disco sheen on top of them. The rest of the album easily lives up to the expectations they set. With dancefloors closed and clubs shuttered, a track like “Fine Wine,” with its repeated extortion to “strike a pose,” is an almost unbearable tease.
If Kylie is underrated for anything, it might be her ability to spread good feelings in a way that comes off as sincere without veering into the overly saccharine. “Celebrate You” is a relentlessly positive and affirming self-love anthem that anyone can feel great about latching onto. The penultimate track “Hey Lonely,” on the other hand, is a reassuringly timely feel-good “I want” track. Not only does Kylie want you to get up and dance, she wants you to have fun doing it, and frankly, it is hard not to believe she means it.
The past year has been saturated with disco, discopop, and the otherwise disco-adjacent, providing a welcome escape from the general chaos of 2020. Given that many of the current wave of discopop albums to come out this year were conceived and put into production long before “lockdown” entered our everyday vocabulary, it’s surely coincidence that we are getting so much memorable, uplifting dancepop right at the moment the world seems to most need a pick-me-up.
In a field unusually full of strong contenders, Kylie has landed one of the strongest pop albums of the year. It may be premature to try to rank Disco in a discography as long and varied as hers, but it is certainly her best work in a decade and is likely to stand easily alongside anything she put out at her peak.
Disco is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music.
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