Kylie Minogue is sort of the Aussie Madonna—though that is meant more as a pop-culture-pantheon parallel than it is to say that each is anything less than singular in her musical output. Let’s face it, though: Madonna can be wearisomely clenched and calculated, while Kylie, conversely, is the very embodiment of freedom and joy. If Ms. Minogue is coming to your town, it’s going to be a party.
But as often happens with glamorous pop stars, she was recently in a very public relationship—in her case with actor Joshua Sasse. As these things go, it ended in heartache, so the party is tinged with sadness this time around. Her new album Golden—hopefully a pronouncement on her state of mind as she attempts to put it all behind her—shows the scars and attempts to heal them…as one does with music.
Curiously, she doesn’t try to merely dance away the heartache. Even sonically, the songs on Golden exhibit a more somber, if hopeful, introspection. As much fun as all those disco-fab collabs that now hold pride of place in her discography were, it’s quite heartwarming to hear Minogue pouring her heart out. Even the guilelessly titled opener “Dancing” feels colored with melancholy—and introduces the new Americana Kylie, twangy guitars and all. Indeed, “Stop Me From Falling” follows, and there’s something of a nu-pop barn dance about it.
“A Lifetime to Repair,” with its roller-coaster dynamics and decidedly anxious vocals, reveals much about her emotional state. “I let my guard down / A devil’s gone and left me a bruise / Rocks at the bottom, will I try again?” she asks herself—obscuring the usually confident Kylie we’ve come to know and love.
This is a refreshingly honest pop record—and whether you’re a casual Kylie fan or a devoted one, it will undoubtedly make you feel much closer to her.