The last time we left our sonically savvy heroine she had saved our pandemic stricken romances and mothballed nightlives with the diva divine album Disco – though the cliffhanger of what she would do next hung in the air like smoke machine vapor in a laser maze. What strange mutant strain of pop would come forth post-pandemic? Would Kylie harness the newfound joy of her home studio? Did anyone really doubt she would?
And then: a heartbeat (beat, beat) pounded out – bursting onto TikTok like an alien invasion. Many chat forum monitor inches have been devoted to the inescapable Padam Padam. I won’t have to do it here. The meme carpet bombing phenomenon of Padam is like a lightning bolt or a shooting star – brief and breathtaking. However, as an automated calling card it did its job like a dutiful android and allowed Ms. Minogue to reprogram us with deft pulses of coy, hallucinogenic repetition. More importantly, it got a huge chunk of the world’s attention. It opened the era of Tension – but as an ambassador from Kylie’s new neon galactic realm it doesn’t even hint at the wonderful twists, turns and time warps that Tension delivers.
Highlights of this omnipotent pop overachiever include:
Synthetic audio DNA set to earworm mode. How many choruses does this song have? Or is it all a bridge? The video confuses the situation further with Blade Runner, Twin Peaks, Tron and Metropolis vibes that seem to imply Kylie’s inner blond dom is a Shirley Manson fan. Love it. A stronger song than Padam Padam – but just as strange.
Hold On To Now
Red Alert! Red Alert! The Robyn Fembot has escaped the platinum Swede’s recording digiscape and eloped with New Order’s (Peter Hook’s) bass guitar as lead guitar riffs. Luckily for fans and stans alike, Kylie Minogue has foster-cared their angular cheek-boned, synthpop stardust sprinkled lovechild into a dreamy dancefloor darling. My favorite since Miss A Thing.
One More Time
By the time the Boz Scaggs vs Michael Jackson synth flutes start to duel at 2:28 you should know you are at the right party. (If the sax stabs in the chorus don’t clue you in first). Delicious. I want this loud at the club. A dancefloor jump starter.
I thought I’d hate this tune. Hearing just the title of it after the announcement of the Las Vegas residency, it seemed like a cheap segue to get her into the casinos’ playlists. Boy, was I wrong. Pure Kylie bittersweet shimmer. This song flows and ROLLS along and you are behooved to jump into it headfirst.
You Still Get Me High
Opens like a ballad from the Footloose soundtrack, then leaps into a “highway race to the sunset” chorus. As good as any 80s reference ever recorded. Kylie knows where she’s from and where she’s been. Currently we are all going to where she will go. Or maybe it’s the moonlight.
Things We Do For Love
Golden is not my fave Minogue release by a longshot but the residual smoke from that dive country bar she burned down has done something wonderful to her later releases. There’s a world weary yet insistent need to wear her heart on her sleeve, sash or hot pants that was ratcheted up. And any song that swells into “Call me a dreamer, I’m a believer in truuuue looooove” better be on your wedding/birthday/funeral party back to mine playlists.
Bizarrely, Christopher Cross’ Sailing guitar doodles open this strangely addictive breakneck X-esque album track. As a closer to the official release, this hyper ballad features the line “You’re part of my story” which makes my pink heart pitter patter. Effortless.
A bonus track on the Deluxe Tension and the true album closer for this majestic release. Full of Kylie Minogue’s trademark sparkly synthesized saudade. What will she do next? Just Imagine…
By James Derek Dwyer
Kylie’s new album Tension is out now via BMG.
1. Padam Padam
8. Green Light
9. Vegas High
12. Love Train
13. Just Imagine
14. Somebody To Love