Kylie. Does she even need an introduction? Check out Wikipedia for the facts, but all you really need to know is that Kylie Minogue is fabulous. I first got into her tunes around the time of the release of Fever. I picked up her ‘Love At First Sight’ single and the rest, as they say, is history!
Kylie’s career has produced some damn fine music that is actually quite varied compared to your average pop star (and Kylie is anything but average!). My personal favorite Kylie ‘era’ of music is during her time with the deConstruction label. ‘Why?’, I hear you ask. I mean, that wasn’t a particularly successful time in her career, and when people think of ‘Kylie Minogue’ the dark, alternative sounds of Impossible Princess probably don’t come to mind.
Well, the reason why I love Kylie’s deCon era is because it was such an artistic, creative body of work. Kylie Minogue (1994) broke Kylie out of the poppy PWL mold and showed us a more mature, more sophisticated artist. Just listen to the opening strains of the moody, sensual ‘Confide in Me’, which opens the album. They’re light years (heh) away from the bubbling synths and basslines of her earlier work.
‘Surrender’ has a bit of an r’n’b groove and continues the more sophisticated dance/pop style that ‘Confide in Me’ got rolling. ‘If I Was Your Lover’ is another trip-hop track with funky guitars, great bassline, and strong vocals from Kylie. ‘Where Is The Feeling’, to be honest, is a little long at 6:58, and I actually prefer the amazing BIR Dolphin radio edit of this track. This is a house track with trumpets, strings, and driving beats – lots of fun, but that BIR edit is just so cool that it really blows the original out of the water! (Get it? Dolphin? Water? Aw, everyone’s allowed a bad joke every once in a while!)
‘Put Yourself In My Place’ is a show-stopping, downtempo ballad that’s just beautiful and is rightfully considered one of Kylie’s classics. The show-stopping doesn’t end there, though – after the song fades out, we move on to ‘Dangerous Game’. Sounding like a spy thriller theme, this sultry, string-filled tune allows Kylie to belt it out and prove those who once called her a ‘singing budgie’ dead wrong!
The lounge-y trip-hop ‘Automatic Love’ is followed by the loooooooong ‘Where Has The Love Gone?’ – a cool tune, but overlong at 7:46! In contrast, at 6:43, ‘Falling’ is the perfect length. Written for Kylie by the Pet Shop Boys but reworked into a breathy, hazy house track, ‘Falling’ is just the right length to get into a groove but not get dull. Very nifty and one of many highlights of the album.
Kylie Minogue closes with ‘Time Will Pass You By,’ an exuberant dance track that sounds like an update of Kylie’s earlier work. You’ll be hard-pressed to not bop along to this one!
So! Kylie Minogue set the stage for Kylie’s next album – the one which would bewilder critics and fans alike. Impossible Princess was released in 1997 as Kylie Minogue, a last-minute title change after the sad passing of Princess Diana. Produced by Brothers in Rhythm, who had previously remixed Kylie’s ‘Finer Feelings’ to great effect, Impossible Princess is – and I’m not exaggerating at all – one of the most brilliant albums ever made. Seriously.
For one thing, this album has ‘Too Far’ on it. This was a huge departure from any of Kylie’s previous work and must have been a bit of a shock to anyone who bought the album expecting more of Kylie’s pop tunes! The intense mood of the song is aided by the drum’n’bass sounds, atmospheric production, and most of all, Kylie’s vocals. This Kylie sounds serious – that Kylie that sang about being so lucky? Yeah, she doesn’t put in an appearance on Impossible Princess.
‘Cowboy Style’ is a neat fusion of Middle Eastern sounds and fiddles, then leads in to ‘Some Kind Of Bliss,’ a nice mid-tempo indie rocker. ‘Did It Again’ begins with some distorted vocals and features an irresistible hook and sharp, self-mocking lyrics – by the way, all the songs on the album were written by Kylie except for ‘I Don’t Need Anyone.’ Pretty neat, huh?
Lovely ambient production and chimes lead into ‘Breathe,’ a beautiful, chilled-out track. The radio edit of this track was sped up, so if you’ve only heard that version, you really need to hear the album version! We dive back into the darkness that ‘Too Far’ introduced with ‘Say Hey,’ a trance-y song with a chilly atmosphere. ‘Drunk’ begins with a harsh chord and leads to some passionate vocals from Kylie. It’s a thickly arranged track with lots of nice touches – a rather underrated gem!
The only track on this album that isn’t absolutely brilliant is ‘I Don’t Need Anyone’ – it feels like it’s trying to fit the ‘indie chick’ template of music and doesn’t jive with the rest of the album very well. It’s good, just not, you know, great.
‘Jump’, a smooth, bass-heavy groove, brings the tempo down before speeding it back up with ‘Limbo’ – a frenetic, explosive plea for relief with wild guitars and heavy drums. Part Two of ‘Too Far,’ you might say. Like much of the album, ‘Limbo’ features raw, undoubtedly cathartic lyrics from Kylie. A really cool, chilling track.
We come down from the anxiety attack that was ‘Limbo’ with ‘Through The Years’, a steamy, smoky, trumpet-spiked downtempo track. And then we conclude with ‘Dreams’ – an epic, string-laden, poetic list of ‘the dreams of an impossible princess.’ The outro of the song is powerful, and it ends on a dramatic little flourish of strings. Perfection, really.
Kylie’s deConstruction era showed the world that Kylie is a complex Princess of Pop – she may be best known for sensational pop and dance tunes, but there’s some heavy stuff going on in her head. For one thrilling moment in time, Impossible Princess (and to a lesser extent, Kylie Minogue), gave us a peek at another, more introspective side of Kylie.