Minogue, Kylie : Body Language

Highly polished and slinky offering from Team Kylie fails to live up to its predecessor

She was right all along, you know – sometimes a thought turns up and you just can’t get it out of your head. This one’s been brewing since 2002, and it arrived approximately the same time as the artist formerly known as [a]Kylie Minogue[/a] stepped out at the 2001 Brit Awards singing a version of her career-changing single ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, as spliced together with [a]New Order[/a]’s ‘Blue Monday’. The thought was ‘How cool is that?’, and it was followed by another. Simply: ‘How is she ever going to follow it?’

As you might expect, it’s a question that has, of late, not been far from the thoughts of [a]Kylie Minogue[/a] and her squadron of career guardians. Once the ultimate clothes-horse for changing musical fashions, be it teen pop to [a]Sheryl Crow[/a] – style guitar balladry, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ and its accompanying album ‘Fever’ had the effect of putting [a]Kylie Minogue[/a] in a position she’d not really found herself since 1995’s ‘Confide In Me’. She was cool, and she was credible. Even if she was advertising Eurostar.

‘Body Language’ – really the only appropriate title for an album by a woman about whose bottom so much has been written – is therefore a unique [a]Kylie Minogue[/a] record, one that is forced to defend a position of strength. As such, the big guns are out in force: from Curtis Mantronik to the power-behind-the-throne that is songwriter Cathy Dennis, their aim is to build us a new faster, stronger, model [a]Kylie Minogue[/a] to exceed our previous expectations.

And? Well, this, basically, is an extremely tastefully done, soulful modern r’n’b record. The debut single ‘Slow’ is as you know rather good, though not as good as ‘Red Blooded Woman’, which is excellent cutting edge pop in a great single by the [a]Justin Timberlake[/a] or [a]Sugababes[/a] way, while influences run from [a]Daft Punk[/a] to [a]Prince[/a] (‘Still Standing’). On ‘Secret’ she even raps albeit in a clipped controlled way. On the cover she looks like she masterminds a team of glamorous cat burglars. What she sounds like on the CD, meanwhile – a woman singing over what are more state of the art production techniques than actual songs – is reminiscent of something else besides. More than anything else, this sounds like someone gamely trying to stay ahead of the game. In short, it sounds like a [a]Madonna[/a] album.

Weirdly, it also calls to mind The [a]Strokes[/a]. Brilliant as ‘Room On Fire’ is, it can never hope to recapture the feeling we got when we heard them for the first time, when they existed not just as a band, but part of an incredibly exciting tale unfolding. Two years ago ‘Fever’ helped us hear [a]Kylie Minogue[/a] in just that way – as if for the first time. That would be that quality of album it’d be nice to see her make again. And though certainly very good – this isn’t it.

John Robinson