Music: Kylie - Aphrodite ***
At Glastonbury last weekend, Kylie Minogue enjoyed a rousing reception when she made a guest appearance during Scissor Sisters' set. She had been due to headline the festival in 2005, but was forced to withdraw as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis.
It says something for her standing that she is as highly regarded off the dancefloor as on it, and it is fair to say that her battle to get better has only increased the fondness with which she is regarded.
Yet, Kylie -- the artist rather than the 42-year-old woman from Melbourne -- does not seem to possess a beating heart. There's something utterly Stepford-esque about her in full-on promo mode -- take a look at last weekend's interview with Jonathan Ross to get my drift.
And, with the exception of her mid-career collaboration with fellow Antipodean Nick Cave, her music has been devoid of soul. Instead, she has allowed herself to be a blank canvas on which others can project their ideas. Occasionally, this yields magic -- avoid those who don't get that Can't Get You Out Of My Head is a pop tune of the very highest order. Yet, that single is just as much about the songwriting and production talents of Cathy Dennis and Rob Davis as it is about Kylie who, even her staunchest supporters would agree, is a bog-standard singer at best.
This, the Aussie's 11th album, finds her working with enough songwriters and studio boffins to field two football teams. Their number includes such comparative heavyweights as Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears and Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley, and their efforts are overseen by Stuart Price, the producer best known for one of Madonna's umpteenth reinventions.
Price could make silk purses out of a haggard pig's behind, so it comes as little surprise that there's plenty of gold-dust sprinkled here. Opener and lead single All the Lovers is typical of his studio alchemy -- synth-led and tailored to nightclubs the world over, it manages to sound like every disco tune you have ever loved rolled into one.
And it would take a brave soul to bet against Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love Tonight) becoming a huge hit. It's euphoric -- a word Kylie has used extensively to describe the mood of this album -- and, while utterly derivative, it's infectious too.
At least half of these dozen tracks are similarly catchy and in that regard it marks quite an improvement on her last album, 2007's X. But, like every Kylie album, there's plenty of filler, too.
The title track is especially weak. Written by Nerina Pallot, it's full of cheesy sexual double entendres and breathy vocals -- how this got beyond Price is anyone's guess. And Looking for an Angel boasts a chorus every bit as inane as the naff title suggests.
Burn it: All the Lovers; Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love Tonight)