Monday, November 26, 2007

In My Arms

Song: In My Arms
Artist: Kylie Minogue
Album: X

Today sees the release of Kylie Minogue’s tenth studio album “X,” her first since being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the record since it was announced as I’ve become quite the fan of the Australian dance-pop artist based on her last three albums, “Light Years,” “Fever,” and “Body Language.” Kylie is “Madonna-huge” just about everywhere else in the world except the States where she’s pretty much only remembered from her 1987 hit “The Locomotion” as well as her biggest hit to date, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Since “X” is out in the U.K. today but won’t see a release here until February of next year, it’s safe to say that she’s not making the U.S. a priority, and honestly… given our reception to her, who can blame her?

Like the latest Britney release, Kylie worked with a slew of up and coming (as well as established) producers and did a load of tracks and whittled them down to the thirteen that make up “X.” Also like Britney, many of these songs leaked online early with as much as an albums worth available way back in July. Online fans put together an unofficial “pre-release” track listing along with cover art. I’ve been hooked on it since it came out, only adding to my anticipation of the full record. It was a surprise to find out that only four of those tracks would make it to the final album, but now that I’ve had a chance to listen to the official record, I see the vast amount of quality tunes she in fact was working with.

While I had fun sifting through the leaked demos Britney had with her album (close to thirty) it is no surprise to me that Kylie’s are on another level altogether. I have been really digging “Excuse My French” and “In The Mood For Love” from the early leaked material and were surprised they didn’t make the final cut, but it’s only since I’ve gotten to hear some of the recently released official b-sides that will be used for various editions and for singles that it becomes apparent that Kylie was striving for something really current and special. Of the thirty-some new tracks there are honestly none that I dislike… it certainly could have been a double album, though I think it is wise she’s gone this route.

So how is the actual album? Well… it’s pretty great. First single “2 Hearts” hasn’t become the mega-hit that was probably expected, but Kylie certainly didn’t go “safe” for the first single. I really like it’s glam-rock vibe and have been enjoying it since it was released. There is a fair amount of killer dance tracks including “Like a Drug,” “Speakerphone,” and “Wow” that are what you’d expect from a Kylie album. “Sensitized” has been disappointing bloggers since it was leaked as many had high hopes for a new collaboration from the “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” duo of Guy Chambers and Cathy Dennis, and while it’s certainly not the mind-numbing catchiness of that megahit, it’s grown on me and works within the context of the record quite well.

I was eagerly awaiting the Calvin Harris produced track “Heart Beat Rock” and must admit it falls a bit short of the best stuff on his record, but is not bad by stretch. The highlights for me start first and foremost with “In My Arms” which is destined to be a huge hit overseas. Since it was leaked in July I have not been able to stop listening to it and think it is on par with “I Believe in You” as what will in the long run be considered “classic Kylie.” It is unbelievably catchy and fun but also really shows off why Kylie IS Kylie… her angelic voice wraps around the chorus giving the semi-tossed off lyrics some actual weight. It’s amazing. “The One” is so far the other album highlight to me, a glorious 80’s synth-pop mid-tempo ballad that again finds Kylie doing what she does best, singing about love and finding herself awash in shimmering electro-pop bliss. My description is flowery… but candy never tasted this good.

In the age of the iPod and internet leaks we music fans find ourselves with access we’ve never had before. On one hand, I absolutely love being able to see part of the process, listening to everything and debating what should have made the album and what would have been better left off. And while I have sat down and listened to the album from start to finish, I have also been throwing in the other tracks I like that didn’t make it. Digital music put the listener in control, making the record that THEY want to hear. Does it cheapen the process or the album as art? I’m not sure. But I suppose when you’re working with a slew of producers and trying many different things to see what sticks it’s not an album you’re making… it’s a collection. And while I still don’t understand how all of these non-album tracks found their way to the public I wonder if Kylie realizes this and is letting the fans do what they wish by making the Kylie record that fits them best. Which given the final product of “X,” it seems like exactly what Kylie was shooting for.


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