Thursday 18 July 2019

Album Review: Kylie goes for a stroll down Abbey Road ... and stumbles

Kylie The Abbey Road Sessions (Parlophone)

John Meagher

John Meagher

As guilty pleasures go, the music of Kylie Minogue takes some beating. From her Stock Aitken Waterman days through to her contemporary guise as a purveyor of sophisticated electro-pop, the petite Melbourne expat has hoovered up admirers at every turn.

One of them is the eminent English pop culture writer Paul Morley, whose high regard for Kylie was channelled into a strange but fascinating tome, A History of Pop in the Shape of a City.

Morley recognised the brilliance of her 2001 single Can't Get You Out of My Head, and if you read it, chances are you will too.

This stop-gap album -- recorded in the London studios made famous by the Beatles -- is Kylie as we've rarely heard her.

Her vocals are naked -- vocodors and Auto-Tune have been given a wide berth.

And the studio trickery that has been so essential to her sound has been eschewed in favour of organic instrumentation and full-on orchestration.

And, sadly for us Kylie fans, the whole thing falls flat on its face.

Quite simply, Minogue isn't a good enough singer to be able to shoulder a project like this.

All too often her voice is thin, inexpressive and palpably lacking range. The elegant accompaniment only serves to highlight her myriad vocal deficiencies. There's another unavoidable problem: several of the career-spanning songs featured here simply do not translate to this lush setting. All the Lovers loses its sassy, sensual sparkle in this format and the blatantly suggestive Slow has been rendered sterile and naff.

Somewhat surprisingly, a slowed-down version of one of her earliest hits, Locomotion, passes muster. It sounds like a completely different song to the highly synthesised original, but it works well.

And Where the Wild Roses Grow is also successful, but that's probably because the version here isn't a world away from the captivating ballad she recorded with fellow Antipodean Nick Cave more than a decade ago.

KEY TRACKS Locomotion; Where the Wild Roses Grow

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