After parting ways with Roc Nation and ending her contract with Parlophone Records earlier this year, Queen Kylie Minogue is just getting started with a brand new chapter in her already prolific career.
Fernando Garibay, of “Heavy Metal Lover” fame (among many others, but that SONG), is one of the collaborators Kylie’s evidently selected to join her on this new journey — along with a few talented new friends.
Over a year ago, Kylie and Fernando dropped a four-track set to accompany creative director William Baker‘s Sleepwalker mini-film starring our Mighty Aphrodite, which included ethereal, left-of-center cuts like “Break This Heartbreak” and “Chasing Ghosts.”
Their chemistry (read my…body language) apparently couldn’t be limited to just one or two studio sessions, because a year later, Kylie + Garibay has arrived. Yes, they did it again (REFERENCE).
The 3-track set is another forward-thinking, shape-shifting offering, each with a different feature and feel: There’s “Your Body” with “Right Here, Right Now” collaborator/production legend Giorgio Moroder (which is not a Christina Aguilera cover, I’m sad to report), “If I Can’t Have You” with Sam Sparro and “Black and White” with, inexplicably…Shaggy.
That’s the one with a brand new video, so let’s start there.
“Black And White” is a beautiful and bizarre pop hybrid, which sets the tone for these unconventional tracks. Drifting across a dreamy pulse, sort of like one of Kaskade‘s early trance-pop productions (a la “Step One Two”), our angel-voiced siren stares at pictures of a former flame.
“These photographs don’t relieve me/They’re all I have of you since you left/Seeing your smile is so misleading,” she coos.
Speaking of misleading, that’s exactly what this song is. It’s heartbreaking! And yet, it’s an uptempo banger, especially as that stomping chorus comes bursting into the speakers, overpowering the production with shimmery noise. “Smile for me! Smile for me!” she pleads. Tears on the dance floor.
Shaggy’s feature is every bit as puzzling as it looks on paper (err, Internet), as he goofily laments parting ways with his lady. “Give it to me girl and I’ll make…make 51 Shades of Grey!” Rather than allowing Kylie to show us the way out, we’re treated instead to a fiery, festival-ready dance floor explosion of beats. It’s two or three entirely different songs in one, basically. Super weird, yet strangely addictive.
The accompanying video, like this EP, steers clear of the usual pop gloss, supplying a grainy, DIY glimpse of Kylie in home movie mode while vacationing in the south of Paris, happily twirling in a teeny frilly bikini and splashing around in the sea for her very lucky, lucky, lucky director, Katerina Jebb. (It’s sort of like if Lana Del Rey decided to crack a smile and dance around in her gloomy Honeymoon VHS tapes.)
The absolutely fantastic “If I Can’t Have You” comes next, hitting even harder with a finger-snapping, tropical House-infused sort of end-of-summer sound. With its weird, echoing noises, warped vocals and emotions on high, she’s sort of supplying what Justin Bieber and Jack Ü have been serving up lately. #KylieOnTrend!
Sparro’s breathy falsetto, a surprising contrast to his more soulful, full-bodied work, compliments KM’s own voice fabulously, as the two take turns delivering their all-or-nothing pleas. “If I can’t have you, I’ll regret it the rest of my life,” the two plead. This one in particular feels like a potential winner for Kylie to lead the pop pack — it’s very exciting to hear her tackling this sort of sound.
Finally, there’s “Your Body.” (Still not a Legend X cover, sadly.)
As Giorgio spilled the beans in an early interview, Kylie asked him to do some Italian sexy-talk for an upcoming EP with Fernando. (So, no, this release wasn’t a total surprise.)
“There’s four tracks that are very sexy and very uncommercial – beautiful new sounds. She asked me if I could do a little talk in Italian on her music. She wanted it really sexy, like a Latin lover – heavy breathing. I think she was quite happy,” he said at the time. (There are only three tracks now. Sad!)
“Your Body” is the result of that collaboration, indeed kicking off with Moroder getting Kylie hot and bothered with his thick Italian accent. No idea what he’s saying — it could be a 40-second monologue about how to put together an Ikea bed — but it’s still quite sexy.
In comes KM immediately after, providing some weird “Fee-fi-fo!“-ish chanting before supplying some breathy seduction of her own. The song slowly expands in all of its hypnotic, robo-strangeness, like a 2015 disco lovechild of X‘s “Speakerphone” and “The One” — and maybe a tiny bit of Donna Summer and Robyn. “Your body, your body, your body…”
So what is there to take away from this Friday surprise? Kylie is no one-trick pop pixie — and she’s ready to grab the reigns.
Sure, Kylie will always provide the finer feelings as a camp, glittery disco diva with a sizable catalog of massive pop hits at her disposal, but there’s something quite refreshing about the fact that such a massive superstar is ready and willing to shift gears and churn out some fresh, left-leaning pop, especially given the lukewarm reception to her last album, Kiss Me Once. (And who doesn’t love a little reinvention?)
As a result, what this mini-collection really sounds like is a pop star mid-transition, as Kylie pokes around and samples new sounds in the studio with Fernando and company, deciding which way to take her career next. It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen and heard her get experimental post-label shake up: We are talking about the same woman who gave us Kylie Minogue and Impossible Princess, after all.
As it turns out, IndieKylie is alive and well. This is a very good thing.