It could have been assumed, then, that Kiss Me Once would prove to be one of the most defining moments of Kylie’s career. Certainly as she’s approached the milestone age of 50 she’s spoken often of recording a jazz album, while the one previously-unrecorded song on The Abbey Road Sessions, Flower, was a deeply personal ode to an as-yet unborn child which was enormously atypical of her back catalogue. Given that the state of being an ageing pop star is still relatively unploughed terrain, with even behemoths like Madonna struggling to figure out their place in a world inherently dominated by youth, it would have made sense for Kylie to choose this moment for a radical reinvention.
It’s crushingly disappointing, then, to find that Kiss Me Once is perhaps her most anonymous offering to date. Kylie has always relied on a resolute blankness for much of her appeal and here, rather than exploding this open by injecting some strident character into proceedings, she sounds more removed from the material than she has since the grim dying days of her PWL era.
Given that Kylie was my first MusicOMH review it’s fitting that she’s my last, at least in any regular sense. I want to devote more time to my own writing, including finally getting around to sorting out my own domain name and hopefully (slowly) sprucing up the blog.
It’s unfortunate that I disliked the album so much. Kylie is my third most listened to artist so no-one could accuse me of being a ‘hater’, yet I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by her trajectory over the past decade. She’s in a bit of an odd position in that she’s almost universally ‘loved’ but in a patronising and cloying manner which lacks any serious respect for her as an artist. Look at your average Kylie review or the comments beneath it and you’ll find endless variations of ‘you know what you’re getting with Kylie, she’s all about fun, don’t think about it too much’. It’s a damagingly dismissive attitude which rests on the notion that pop can’t be brilliant (and fun) if it means anything – rather the business of making art should be left to ‘serious’ artists’. The cracks in Kylie’s appeal as a cipher grew ever wider as it becomes increasingly incongruous for an adult approaching middle-age to be singing frothy identikit hits which could easily have been offered to one hundred other much younger artists. Down that road lies the musical irrelevance of Cher – and she at least has her larger-than-life persona to retain a degree of interest. Kylie just has…being nice. It already seems clear that Kiss Me Once isn’t going to do much commercially. Something has to give.