Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kylie Minogue: Body Language

With her great 2002 album Fever, Kylie Minogue presented herself as a mechanical muse whose every gesture snapped and locked into place with the sound of a vacuum seal. Her hygienic coo summoned a cool sort of cyborg soul, and her videos showed her gliding through sleek futurescapes, tonguing the sweet-and-sour tang of a techno kiss. But where Fever evoked an effervescent world that Minogue governed while hardly trying, Body Language shows some fateful signs of construction. Minogue still carries herself as a formalist's dream of a pop star, but her sleek, catty presence sounds malnourished against the clomping electro backdrop of the first single, "Slow." The song signals Body Language's intriguing turn toward moody '80s sounds, from Blade Runner-minded electro to the Italo-disco gurgle of Giorgio Moroder. But long stretches prove mysteriously hookless, arid, or burdened by Minogue foregrounding a voice that withers in the glare of the spotlight. That changes as she diffuses through the glitter-glide of "Promises" (produced by electro/hip-hop legend Curtis Mantronik), and even more once "Sweet Music" kicks in with a sturdy beat that sounds like Basement Jaxx taking a sideline breather. Some of the ballads work: "Chocolate" finds Minogue adopting a comely whisper through a breeze of finger-snap funk, and "Obsession" charts her broken heart steeling against pain her voice had already gotten over. Body Language shows Minogue as a surprisingly impressive presence in spurts, but she sounds better with her pleasure engine revving at full purr.


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