It’s remarkable how in this most distressing of years so many divas have rallied round to rouse our spirits. Gaga dropped her brilliant banger-filled Chromatica album in May, returning to her dance-pop roots after rockier dalliances with Joanne and A Star Is Born.
The following month, Jessie Ware served up sinuous disco on What’s Your Pleasure? Melanie C released one upbeat song after another, culminating in a self-titled long-player that’s her most accomplished since 1999’s Northern Star. Miley Cyrus channelled Stevie Nicks to dazzling effect on Midnight Sky.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor is murdering the dancefloor once again with a sprightly cover of Alcazar’s Crying At The Discotheque. And while Steps are a male-female combo, it’s the gals who did all the heavy vocal lifting on cracking comeback single What The Future Holds.
As if all this bright and shiny diva-delivered pop perfection wasn’t enough to keep us dancing away the pandemic blues, Kylie’s hung up her cowgirl boots to do what she does best with a full-throttle, foot-on-the-pedal dance album whose call to get up and boogie is impossible to resist - even if for now we can only do so with our households, bubbles and Zoom party pals.
Disco pulls no punches with its title and indeed its tracklist. If first single Say Something (a fantastic song but pure pop with a mid-tempo beat) had you wondering whether the album would be about as authentically disco as Golden was genuine country-and-western, there’s no need to freak out.
The album c’est Chic and the Bee Gees and Donna Summer rolled into one, with more beats per minute than a gay club on poppers and all the 70s tropes in place: Huge choruses, sinewy beats, double handclaps, soaring strings and blasts of brass - and never more so than on I Love It, whose orchestral intro plays like a homage to Donna’s Heaven Knows and whose title sums up my reaction to the whole album.
Opener Magic is pure euphoria and instant-classic Kylie. Its simple declaration of loved-up-ness is surely about boyfriend Paul Solomons, but Minogue has never been one to channel anything too personal into her music and she isn’t making any confessions on a dancefloor here.
Instead, the album is an ode to love and dancing, with Unstoppable and Celebrate You closing out the standard edition on such a transportational high I defy anyone to not be dancing themselves dizzy. (I think the neighbours had a bit of a laugh when they clocked me doing just that this morning.) The deluxe edition features an extra four tracks, with Fine Wine again paying homage to Donna with its 'Beep beep' refrain and the Pop Princess saluting Queen Madonna with a 'Strike a pose' shoutout.
There’s not a duff track on either edition and Kylie’s three-octave vocal range has never been put to better use. She sounds as sweet as sugar on Miss A Thing, Real Groove is a step back in time to the sophisticated sound of Fever (and I’d venture Disco is her most consistently great album since that 2001 chart-topper), Monday Blues sounds like Kool & The Gang on speed, and she really goes for it on the supercharged Supernova, where whoever was in charge of the cowbells surely ended up with repetitive strain injuring by recording’s end.
Maybe not. Maybe the cowbells were done digitally. Most of the album was made remotely in lockdown but there’s a real warmth to it and, like the best disco, it has an infectious I-will- survive spirit that’s a welcome antidote to all of 2020’s doom and gloom. And who needs a Joe Wicks workout (lovely though he is) when we’ve got the double whammy of Where Does The DJ Go? and Dance Floor Darling?
The former is so fast it’s like condensing a 30-minute Zumba workout into three minutes and two seconds and on the latter Kylie asks ‘What you waiting for? Get up on the floor!’ as the beat goes ballistic. Like the whole album, it’s her most compelling call to the dancefloor since Your Disco Needs You.