It must have been one of the shortest meetings in record company history: “What should Kylie do next?” “How about a disco album?” “Brilliant! What shall we call it?”
You might imagine Ms Minogue could be on the back foot these days, trying to hold her own in pop at 52, up against the likes of Little Mix, who also release an album today. She’s a decade away from her last top 10 single in the UK and no longer the first Kylie that the younger generation thinks of thanks to the inexplicable rise of the Jenner/Kardashian clan. But her surprising 2018 diversion into Nashville country music, Golden, was, appropriately enough, a gold seller here, and her 2019 appearance in Glastonbury’s Sunday Teatime Legends Slot is starting to feel like the last moment of mass musical joy we’ll ever have.
Like most of us, she sounds like she’s feeling nostalgic for happier times, but instead of firing out another greatest hits collection (she did that last year) she’s come up with a new album that’s endlessly upbeat, packed with retro warmth. On the cover she’s heavily made up, diamonds dangling from her ears, reflecting a star of light: a human glitterball. The funk bass of Real Groove, Chic guitar of Dance Floor Darling and swirling strings of I Love It step back in time to the period before she was a soap star singing the tinny tunes of Stock, Aitken & Waterman. But she’s nostalgic for her own material too. You could sing her 2001 megahit Can’t Get You Out of My Head over the top of Miss a Thing – it’s a perfect fit.
Maybe we ought to be moping right now, but escapism is also understandably popular. Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga have done well during lockdown with albums of party pop, while Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s carefree kitchen discos have become an online favourite. Kylie’s Disco could do with the occasional change of pace – both Monday Blues and Where Does the DJ Go?, whose title could suggest a tirade against the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, are so chirpy they could irritate.
But anyone providing uncomplicated fun right now is offering a vital resource, and in the triumphant groove of Say Something, she has one of her best ever singles. “Love is love, it never ends/Can we all be as one again?” she repeats. In united appreciation of this very welcome return, maybe we can.