ESSENTIAL "2 Hearts"
"X" marks the spot where Australian diva Kylie Minogue takes a grateful and meditative turn in the spotlight after successfully battling breast cancer. Or is it?
We've been trained to expect a certain gravitas, or at least something tilted toward renewal, from stars who've been through medical hell and emerged triumphant. On her new album, which finally gets its US release today, Minogue devotes roughly three minutes to her travails: On the cheery electro-pop tune "No More Rain" she imagines what it will be like to someday be back onstage. The rest of the time Minogue gets down to the business of being onstage - cooing and flirting her way through pulsing slabs of glitter and fizz stacked like so many nightclub hookups.
"2 Hearts," the glammy lead track, is the heaviest song here, musically speaking, and also the freshest, even though the stomping, swaggering gem is a blast from the Marc Bolan-esque past. From there, "X" unfurls like a glossy visitation from ghosts of Kylie past. (And, by extension, Madonna: "Wow" is "Holiday" on studio steroids, and the list goes on.)
Half the disc is dedicated to icy dance-pop anthems ("Like a Drug," "In My Arms," "Speakerphone," "Heart Beat Rock," "The One"), while the other touches on sentimental sweep ("Cosmic"), artfully vapid coquetry ("Nu-di-ty"), and future-forward rock ("Sensitized," one of the disc's standout tracks).
Even the filler feels like a well-deserved celebration, lit up in bright neon and glittering with tinsel. Really, what could be more restorative? [Joan Anderman]