Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NY Times calls Kylie a blander Madonna

Kylie Minogue still sounds like Madonna’s nicer, blander kid sister on her 11th studio album, “Aphrodite,” which starts with the airy declaration, “Dance — it’s all I want to do.” In her long, buoyantly superficial career, her songs have rarely had much more than that in mind.

Through ups and downs and an arty moment or two, Ms. Minogue, 42, has been a pop presence worldwide since the late 1980s, particularly in her native Australia and Britain. Her elfin voice, the body she’s proud to flaunt and her decent average in finding catchy songs and hopping on bandwagons have sold her tens of millions of albums, though mostly outside the United States. She made her first North American headlining tour only last year.

She has joined Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Kelis and even Miley Cyrus in latching onto club sounds; only Ms. Cyrus sounds less dangerous. Even in “Get Outta My Way,” which stages a voyeuristic ménage à trois — “see me with him and it’s turning you on” — the music goes bounding along, chipper and indifferent.

The album’s executive producer is a certified Madonnaologist, Stuart Price, who produced Madonna’s 2005 “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” which harked back to her 1980s beats with hints of soul searching. For Ms. Minogue, however, positive thinking rules. Her “Put Your Hands Up” isn’t a holdup; its chorus continues, “If you feel love tonight.”

The album draws on Scandinavian, British and American songwriters, and some of the committee-written tracks are so generous with hooks they might be multiple tunes merged into one. But the music ends up chasing Madonna’s coattails (along with some Abba here, some Janet Jackson there, and at times enough overdubbed vocal harmonies to suggest a disco Enya).

Madonna’s old bouncing-ball beats, without the overpowering kick-drum bottom of latter-day club music, are back on this album; so are the smoothly rounded keyboard tones of “Like a Virgin” Madonna and the flickering reverberations of “Ray of Light ” Madonna. “Illusion,” written by Ms. Minogue and Mr. Price, echoes the chorale of “Like a Prayer.” There’s just no avoiding the resemblances.

In the title song of “Aphrodite,” Ms. Minogue sings, “I got spirit you can feel/Did you think I wasn’t real?” No one’s asking for reality in this pop bubble — just a little bit more innovation.