Having substantially re-aligned her career trajectory by lending a much needed soupçon of charm to The Voice, Kylie attempts to shift her international profile up a gear or two with Kiss Me Once, the first fruit of her new alliance with Jay Z’s Roc Nation management.
It must be considered at least a partial success, being both more engaging and more characterful than either X or Aphrodite; but it remains nevertheless an incremental improvement, rather than a substantial overhaul.
With America belatedly in thrall to what it calls EDM (electronic dance music), Kylie barely needs break step at all to handle standard disco pumpers like “Million Miles” and the single “Into the Blue”, both efficient but uninspiring club fodder.
As so often nowadays, Pharrell Williams comes to the rescue with “I Was Gonna Cancel”. A typically light, frothy pop syllabub in Pharrell’s signature style, it sprinkles chimes over staccato synth burbles that hark back to The Commodores – a bang-up-to-date retro touch, as is the ensuing “Sexy Love”, one of two productions by the Danish Wallevik/Davidsen/Cutfather team.
Featuring Daniel Davidsen’s nimble guitar motif over slick rhythm chording and understated slap-bass, it’s immaculately buttoned-down pop-funk.
Elsewhere, “Sexercise” is an American take on dubstep by The Monsters & The Strangerz, while “Les Sex” – is there a theme developing here? –pleasingly runs a tinkling music-box motif over a chunky, pulsing groove.
But lumbering drums weigh down the erotic anticipation of “Kiss Me Once”, and “If Only” is a bit of a mess, although at least here the swaddling, densely layered synth arrangement does offer an apt musical metaphor for the theme of inextricable entanglement.
As for the pallid duet with Enrique Iglesias, “Beautiful” seems too desperate to touch the same melodic nerve as Robbie Williams’ “Angels”, but is too earthbound.
Still, this isn’t a bad collection overall, if less than the expected redesign.
Download: I Was Gonna Cancel; Sexy Love; Les Sex