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Kylie sticks to formula, makes half decent record.

Rating: 7 / 10

Ed Power, 14 Jul 2010

In an ever changing world, there is always that which remains immutable. Despite early indications to the contrary the Irish summer will mostly be rubbish. Thirty per cent of the electorate will vote F***a F**l in the next election. Ingerland will not win the World Cup

To this roll-call of the predictable we can add the fact that, every three years or so, Kylie Minogue will put out a new collection of sad/euphoric dance pop. Her ethereal squeak will be marshalled by a line-up of too-hot-to-touch pop producers. There will be a cracking lead single – in this case Abba-esque 'All The Lovers' – and lots of songs where it seems as if Kylie has been possessed by the ironic spirit of the Pet Shop Boys.

"Executive produced" by Madonna bezzie mate Stuart Price, Aphrodite has been trumpeted by Minogue's label as a 'return to her dance-floor roots' (an assertion which might have rung a little less hollow had 2003's X contained duets with Mongolian throat singers, rather than Calvin Harris and Hot Chip). For songwriters, she turns to Scissor Sister Jake Shears, indie warbler Nerina Pallot, electro bop-sters Kish Mauve and Keane's Tim Rice Oxeley – a line-up that, no matter their other differences, seem to agree on one thing: Kylie is at her best in melancholic diva mode.

In contrast to the electro-clash tinged X, Aphrodite is largely without jagged edges or experimental flourishes. The furthest it strays from the tragic disco template is the guitar propelled 'Cupid Boy', written by Swedish producer Sebastian Ingroso – a tune peculiarly reminiscent of the Sonic Youth-esque interludes of Justin Timberlake's Future Sex/Love Sounds.

Such freshness is in otherwise short supply. Though Minogue has apparently been through a great deal of personal upheaval – her love life the stuff of morning-time soaps – you'd never guess it from ho-hum excursions such as 'Better Than Today' and 'Everything Is Beautiful' (the moochy, Rice-Oxely contribution). To be fair, the problem isn't so much the material as its over-familiarity. Since 2000's Light Years Minogue has been rigorously pursuing the same 3am ennui formula and, whilst there's absolutely nothing wrong with the latest iteration, the law of diminishing returns has started to apply.

Not that Aphrodite should be dismissed. After the genuinely thrilling X, the record's glittering moments may be fewer, but they are not to be missed. Sounding like Faithless on tranquilizers, 'Get Outta My Way' manages to be both hedonistic and transcendentally sad; 'Looking For An Angel' may yield those, oh-so-predictable Pet Shop Boys moments, but Minogue's channelling of a gay middle aged man, is as ever, uncannily persuasive. Yes, you've heard it all before. And yet, now more than ever, who couldn't do with a little more Kylie in their lives?

Rating: 7 / 10
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