There's something about those Minogue sisters. No matter how many times they seem to be down for the count, a surprise comeback hit is always just around the corner. Dannii has never quite achieved the level of superstardom that sister Kylie has attained, but she has shown equal tenacity. Released in 1997, Girl may have been a commercial failure, but it succeeded in repositioning her as a sophisticated club artist rather than a B-list pop singer. That album caught on in the burgeoning trance scene of the mid-'90s, and Neon Nights partially follows that trend into the 2000s on tracks such as "Who Do You Love Now?," the out-of-nowhere comeback collaboration with Riva that gave Dannii the biggest hit of her career. However, Neon Nights is a more varied collection, a veritable pick and mix of the European dance scene at the turn of the century. Songs such as the sleazy "Put the Needle on It" and the pulsating "A Piece of Time" are pure electroclash, whereas the bouncy "For the Record" and "Mystified" caught on at the beginning of the major '80s revival that took off in a big way over the next few years. Despite the variety of influences, the album flows better than any of Dannii's albums have before, with only the overly crass "Vibe On" even approaching filler status. Minogue is no faceless vocalist either; she infuses the tracks with her persona, sexually charged but smart and slightly aloof. There is a revelatory performance on the album's closing track and only ballad, "It Won't Work Out." Against a chilly, spare musical backing, Dannii delivers a heartfelt, unadorned vocal somewhat reminiscent of the best moments of Everything But the Girl. Although the album contains no cover versions, the success of the singles was augmented by the bootlegging craze. "I Begin to Wonder" was mashed with Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record") for the clubs, and "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling" became the first track ever to be granted permission to sample from Madonna's "Into the Groove." These mixes helped these songs reach the widest audience of Minogue's career, topping U.S. club charts as well as those in the U.K. and Europe. Without a doubt the most confident and forward-thinking release yet for Dannii, it didn't quite make her the major star it should have, but it did give her the best run of hits of her career, and continued to show she was much more than the sum of her family name.
AllMusic Review by John Lucas
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