Metro Weekly

Kylie Minogue ‘Tension’ Review: Hit Factory

Kylie Minogue's latest album is a welcome return to form that plays to all her strengths.

Kylie -- Photo: a\Ed Cooke
Kylie — Photo: aEd Cooke

What sets Kylie Minogue apart from most other artists of her caliber is that what we see is what we get. With little interest in autobiographical lyrics or creating a personal mythos in her stage presence, she prefers to let her music speak for itself.

Her personal triumphs and struggles rarely make their way into her music in an immediately discernible way — nor has she ever really felt the need to lean on them as she has spent most of her career turning out pop hits that channel pure, euphoric dance pop.

As much fun as her previous two concept albums were, her latest, Tension (★★★★☆), is a welcome turn away from the conceptual back to a sound that might best be described as pure Kylie.

The first single from Tension, the runaway pride anthem “Padam Padam,” should have been an early indication that the album to come was going to be a hit. In many ways it was Kylie at her best, delivering a straightforward, catchy song with a seductive premise and an inescapably addictive beat.

Most of the album’s other tracks tick those same boxes, although few of them are as saturated with the level of faux-serious camp that made “Padam” inescapable for most of the summer. The title track comes close, however, with the in-your-face swagger of its hooks and a gratuitous use of vocal distortion that stands out for how rare it is — likely for the best, even if it pays off in this one instance.

Kylie -- Photo: a\Ed Cooke
Kylie — Photo: Ed Cooke

The title track is one of a handful that feels indebted to Minogue’s contemporaries in the current pop landscape. “Green Light” is an upbeat number that has already drawn comparisons to her most recent record, likely because between its warm sax and strutting rhythm.

It locates itself solidly within a post-2020 pop sphere that still has yet to fully move past the disco-pop revival that she herself helped to kick off.

She wades into similar waters on the effervescently synthy “You Still Get Me High” and the sultry “Hands.” She veers off course on the euphoric “One More Time,” a track indebted to an earlier generation of pop but one that is still recognizably Kylie and easily one of the best tracks in a sea of standouts.

Going from banger to banger as it does, Tension often feels like it fails to hang together as a cohesive whole, but it’s hardly supposed to. It sets out to be an agglomeration of fun songs that are held together by slick production and, while they might make perfunctory nods to feelings of insecurity and heartbreak, they inhabit that fantasy dance-pop world where love is always fresh and exciting and everyone is feeling ecstatic about it.

Kylie: Tension album
Kylie: Tension

That hit-after-hit approach means that the rare stumble is easy to move past. The album’s big Eurodance moment, “10 Out Of 10,” walks the line between campy and obnoxious, at one point stepping right over it with its ballroom-ish bridge, a rare moment that is both snoozy and too much all at once.

Oliver Heldens’ star power aside, it is difficult to justify its status as a single. But the next track, the intensely high-energy “Story,” is a welcome release and is such a captivating song in its own right, it makes it easy to get back on board.

At her best, Kylie Minogue never asks us to search for meaning or even think too hard about her songs, and to do so would be to miss the point. All she asks us to do is dance and have a good time, and in almost four decades she has proven herself a master at it.

The genius of Tension is that it does not seek or pretend to be anything more than a fun, sexy, and lighthearted collection of well-produced dance-pop bops, and in that sense it leans into exactly the qualities that have made her an international institution.

Tension is available to stream and purchase on all major platforms. Visit

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