The only thing funnier than the people pushing, or buying, the line that the new Kylie Minogue album is a “return to disco” are the people who declared her last release, Golden, a “country” album. Some folks just can’t look beyond the marketing/eye shadow/hat.
While hardly in the AC/DC territory of sustaining a career on two types of songs for 40 years, Minogue has never been one to make radical departures – or returns – from her basic principles, with the variations mostly coming in emphasis and the standards depending on the writers/producers brought in.
That is, she does pop songs with big stonking choruses that most of the time you can dance to (except the few where you will cling close to someone you were dancing with earlier), which mostly carry interchangeable storylines or generic sentiments (except when an enigmatic line or two can be interpreted, if you work hard, as being about her) and generally favour a synth/electronic base on which live instruments come in or out of favour with producers (a bit more guitar on Impossible Princess; a lean to electronics with X; a handful of acoustic and banjo on Golden).
Even mood is generally the same: positive and forward-looking, for Kylie doesn’t do introspective or retrospective. TL:DR you could pull a song from pretty much any Kylie album, put it on another with an adjustment here or there, and they’d fit.
None of which is a criticism by the way: she knows what suits and what works, mostly gets it right, and in any case, albums – in the traditional way of venerating the “statement” – usually have mattered less than getting enough good singles out in the world.
So, the only relevant question is, is Disco a good Kylie album, an ordinary Kylie album, or, like Golden, a great Kylie album?
It’s very good.
It’s buoyant and vibrant, leaning into old school dance via the slap-bass/satin shorts Real Groove and the strings-and-silk-maxis of the rather fabulous I Love It, shifting into the ‘80s with the synth bass and robo-voicing Supernova and the remix-ready rolling stomp of Last Chance, then into the ‘90s with the long-limbed stride of Celebrate You and what you’d have to call the very Minogue-esque party funk of Monday Blues.
Meanwhile, the smoothly ascending Unstoppable, with a touch of Patrice Rushen, and the revved-up bpms with quick guitar and quicker handclaps of Where Does The DJ Go?, work like Daft Punk, bridging the ‘70s and ‘90s.
It’s worth nothing that Magic, Miss A Thing and Dance Floor Darling’s slightly more tempered beats might as well have come straight from the Golden sessions. Magic in particular practically puts its thumbs into the belt loops and kicks up the boot heels.
That just reaffirms the central point of course, that disco, country, club or bedroom Kylie is a matter of degrees – and marketing spin - and the real takeaway of Disco is that on the heels of Golden, she is on a good run.