Kylie Minogue

Kiss Me Once

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The ageless and brilliant Kylie Minogue is an unstoppable force on the pop music scene. Long after her contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, become irrelevant, released the same boring records over and over, or embarrassed themselves in various ways, she continues to crank out inspired albums that show absolutely no dip in quality whatsoever. Working with the usual cadre of A-list producers and songwriters, her 12th studio album, Kiss Me Once, is an intoxicating blend of uptempo dance tracks, funky club cuts, sexy midtempo jams, and the occasional ballad. Packed with hooky songs that fit her voice perfectly, it's easily the equal of her previous Aphrodite record and therefore one of her best again. The album is split evenly between empowering odes to staying strong and facing down life's challenges with admirable courage and lightweight bubblegum pop that's super-sexy and super-fun, which might seem difficult to reconcile over the course of 11 songs, but Kylie manages to give both the passion and sass they deserve. The mix of serious and uplifting with goofy and cute is a formula she's made her own over the years, and Kiss Me Once is textbook Kylie. Listing off the album's highlights would basically mean running down the entire track list, but there are a few real knockouts among them. On the serious side is "Into the Blue," a truly inspiring song with a soaring chorus that lets her show off the power her underrated voice can tap into when she lets loose. "Fine" is another "stay strong" song with a sweet message, excellent use of Auto-Tune, and the kind of chorus that will fill your heart with warmth as you sing along. On the sexy side, the synth poppy "Les Sex," an MNDR co-write and production, is lots of fun; "Sexy Love" is a strutting funk track that's sunnier than the sun; and "Sexercise" rises above some really dorky lyrics to actually sound kinda sexy in a robotic R&B kind of way. Standing head and shoulders above everything is the track Pharrell Williams wrote and produced for her. Coming out of an emotional first meeting with Kylie, he wrote her the amazingly catchy "I Was Gonna Cancel," a heartwarming affirmation of how awesome she is that sounds like a continuation of his work with Daft Punk on "Get Lucky." One half expects the robots to show up somewhere amidst the clavinets, disco bells, and shimmering synths. They don't, but Kylie proves to be a wonderful conduit for a typically brilliant production. If it's not a huge smash someone isn't doing his or her job right. The only disappointment is her duet with Enrique Iglesias, "Beautiful." It's a sappy ballad that feels out of place here and would work better on the soundtrack of a really bad rom-com. Despite this one skippable moment, Kiss Me Once is a glittering, fun, and surprisingly powerful album that's classic Kylie through and through.

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