Music

Kylie Minogue: Body Language

Adrien Begrand

Kylie Minoque

Body Language

Label: EMI
US Release Date: 2004-02-10
UK Release Date: 2003-11-17
Amazon
iTunes

In late 2002, Kylie Minogue and Fischerspooner's Casey Spooner caused a bit of a stir with their racy performance of Fischerspooner's remix of "Come Into My World" on the BBC's Top of the Pops program. Viewers might have been instantly drawn to Ms. Minogue's slinky undergarments (revealed to all when Spooner ripped her dress off with a flourish), but even more curious was the music itself. Here was a song from an album that exuded a definite, '70s disco vibe, but placed in the hands of the American electro duo, it was transformed into a writhing, sexy blast of '80s synth pop; it was as if Kylie's wayback machine was reset for 1982 instead of 1977, and what a perfect fit it was, a fitting follow-up remix to the ingenious Kylie/New Order mash-up, "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head". Kylie must have thought the same thing, as well.

Minogue's 2001 album Fever was a long-overdue breakthrough in North America; for a decade, she had reigned as one of the top pop acts in the world, but had been unable to follow up her early Stateside success as a Stock, Aitken, and Waterman product back in 1988. Teaming up with dance pop star-turned producer Cathy Dennis on several standout tracks, the disco-fused Fever was a monstrous success, thanks largely to a bevy of terrific singles, led by the worldwide smash "Can't Get You Out of My Head". Here was a pop album that reveled in ultra-contagious melodies and irresistible dance beats, keeping things simple. The result was a classy piece of work which peaked in America at Number Three on the album chart, the thirtysomething Minogue upstaging soulless, brainless music by younger American pop tarts like Britney and Christina.

On Kylie's new album Body Language, she makes the move from disco to the more synthetic strains of synth pop, obviously inspired by the likes of Gary Numan and Giogio Moroder, not to mention the aforementioned 2002 remix. In contrast to the pulsating, hi-hat driven dance beat of Fever's "More More More", Body Language gets off to a more understated start. "Slow", the first single, and focal point of the entire album, kicks off with a minimal synth intro that sounds like it came straight from an Atari 2600 console, as clicking beats stutter along. Minogue is at her most sultry and seductive, as she croons, "Knew you'd be here tonight/ So I put my best dress on/ Boy I was so right," as the synths build up subtly, only to come to an immediate halt on the hypnotic chorus. As on Fever, Minogue knows that less is more, her lack of vocal range veiled by the simple arrangement. Co-written by Icelandic-Italian chanteuse Emiliana Torrini, it's one of the strongest singles of Minogue's career.

That '80s electro feel continues on the album's first half, as "Still Standing" and "Promises" rely on buzzing, low synth lines driving the beats, and chord flourishes that sound straight out of 1984. The light, breezy funk of "Sweet Music" boasts a great hook that seems to evoke both early Prince and INXS, as Minogue sings, "And we can get/ Crazy like that/ Feel it like that/ Move it like that/ Drop it like that/ Rocking the track/ I'm looking for that new sen-sa-tion," while "Red Blooded Woman" blends the 80s sound with an almost garage-like beat, the lyrics containing yet another '80s reference (Dead or Alive this time), not to mention a great line in, "You'll never get to Heaven if you're scared of getting high." The aggressive "Secret (Take You Home)" makes up for its hackneyed lyrics ("Here's my secret/ I'm a girl who likes her fun") with a snappy little whistle-like melody, as well as a coquettish rap by Minogue.

The rest of Body Language quickly loses steam, however. "Obsession", "I Feel For You", and "Someday" are all more influenced by R&B, and admirably crank up the funk, but the melodies are forgettable, and amount to little more than mere filler. Meanwhile, the turgid, boring "Loving Days" sounds like any other empty-headed Pop Idol ballad. Only the slinky closing track "After Dark" and the steamy "Chocolate ("Hold me and control me and then/ Melt me slowly down") keep the last half of the album from being a complete waste of time.

Listening to the more laid-back Body Language, you can't help but think of how buoyant, warm, and upbeat Fever is, and wishing the new album would have something as undeniably catchy as "Can't Get You Out of My Head", as euphoric as "Love at First Sight", as welcoming as "Come Into My World". Minogue's foray into early '80s electro works well at times, but compared to the perfection of her previous album, it's ultimately a mild disappointment, leaving you cold; besides, Goldfrapp's superb album Black Cherry weaves synth pop with modern dance beats much more expertly, and the songs are much catchier than most of the ones on this disc. Still, even though Body Language is a bit of a misstep for Minogue, there's a sense of class to it. Kylie and her producers never overdo things, always taking the high road, aware of her limitations as a singer. Her style might seem too safe for some listeners, but for her, it's a perfect fit. Britney could learn a thing or two.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.