Kylie Minogue: Tension Album Review – Warungku Terkini

Should executives at Mattel follow through with their plans for a full-blown, thousand-year Barbie movie franchise, they might take a page from another enduring icon and star of the summer: Kylie Minogue. The similarities between the Australian pop diva and the American fashion doll have been remarked upon (and played into) for the better half of Minogue’s four-decade career, but apart from the unfailingly sunny demeanor, flamboyant costume changes, and elemental, almost psychedelic blondeness, Minogue has always foregrounded a humanity that no corporate property—never mind most pop stars—could hope to touch. “Self-knowledge is a truly beautiful thing and Kylie knows herself inside out,” Rufus Wainwright once exclaimed to The Guardian, “she is what she is and there is no attempt to make quasi-intellectual statements to substantiate it.” Minogue’s art is surface—fabulously so. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the singer made pop stardom as compelling a site of projection as Kate Moss was for modeling, collaborating with artists and filmmakers to depict her beauty and blondness through a darkly romantic lens or in campy, theatrical neon. Unlike Janet Jackson or Madonna, who sought to reveal fresh aspects of their psychology with each new release, the fiercely private Minogue has often opted to present herself at face value, even as she’s navigated intense personal upheaval.

To read too deeply into the lyrics of a megahit like “Padam Padam” would be an insult, so consider its charm: The single, which defied industry expectations, became an officially sanctioned Pride anthem, sparked dialogue about ageism on UK radio, and dominated the summer off the back of a million TikToks, is a testament to how invigorating and multifaceted the effect of the singer’s music can still be. It is also, taken for parts, a profoundly weird song: the rare hookup banger that manages to shout out Édith Piaf, keep time with your heartbeat, and elicit Pavlovian screams from gay bars in a mere two syllables. “Padam Padam” embodies a looseness of concept that slightly conflicts with the title of Minogue’s 16th album, Tension. It is the most relaxed of her recent LPs and by far the best, a return to form that privileges the emotional immediacy and kinetic sensation that’s defined the best of her music for years.

Minogue forayed into concept albums with 2018’s countrified Golden and 2020’s DISCO, which yielded a few undeniable gems but failed overall for the simple reason that they didn’t sound quite like Kylie. In the process of accommodating mirrorballs and cowboy hats, the singer sacrificed a degree of spontaneity, resulting in a self-conscious sound at odds with her self-possessed spirit. After drafting and then ditching plans for an ’80s-inspired album, Minogue and her collaborators—producers Biff Stannard, Duck Blackwell, and Jon Green—abandoned overarching themes in favor of a more casual process, recording with a portable mic setup in Airbnbs and hotel rooms whenever inspiration struck. The final product is a compendium of all the sounds Minogue is best known for: confectionary synth-pop, breezy Euro house, and propulsive EDM.

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