It’s all in the name
As the title purports, Disco is a disco-style album. Here, Kylie Minogue aims to deliver, presumably, disco tracks. And she does just that. From front to back, Disco has easily recognizable, catchy and fun sounds that seem to be what one might think of when they hear the word disco. And unfortunately, that’s the majority of what Disco has. It’s a solid and playful album without much serious depth or storytelling. That’s not really a jab at Disco, that’s just what it is.
It’s hard to pick highlights off of the album, because it’s quite consistent all the way through. Most of these songs have similar beats and structures, which leads to the album feeling very homogenous. Again, that’s not an inherently bad thing because the sound of the album is fun and good, but it doesn’t really change all that much over the runtime. There are a lot of fun sliding synths with bright tones and sharp rhythmic disco drums, and Minogue’s voice is consistently solid for the duration if maybe a bit over-effected at points. For standouts, look to the opening track “Magic.” With an album that has such a consistent sound as this, it’s no small feat to establish it immediately and get the ball rolling, but Minogue picks it right up while keeping the intensity comparatively light to some of the later songs. “Magic” sounds like the title track to a 1970s period piece. It’s a strong opener.
Another highlight is “Dance Floor Darling,” which shows up at the 10th spot on Disco. It features Minogue filtered through a few effects that get her fairly close to sounding time-accurate for the disco era, with a well-composed instrumentation consisting of synth, guitar, bass and constantly tapping drums. The song even features a breakdown section where Minogue speaks over the music rather than singing, followed by a mini guitar solo, which in and of itself is followed by a vocoder vocal solo blending with the last chorus, and that was a lot of fun to listen to. This song probably left the most positive impression out of all of them.
However, “Dance Floor Darling” did not leave the biggest impression. That honor dubiously belongs to “Supernova,” the album’s fifth track. “Supernova” does nothing wrong in its melodies or instrumentals or synths, except for maybe coming out of the gate a bit harsh with some light dissonance between Minogue’s voice and an apparent and unforeseen string section. No, this is about the hook. The lyrics in the chorus to “Supernova” go, “shining like a supernova, brightest of the stars- from another galaxy like Jupiter and Mars.” This is a lyric that is potentially on the level of Lil Yachty’s woodwind cello gaffe on the track “Peek A Boo.” The intent here is not to be an astronomical snob (and if it was, the complaint here would be more about comparing a romantic partner to a star destroying itself in nuclear fusion or another line from later in the song about dimensions), but it’s important to stress how immersion-breaking it is to hear a singer claim so enthusiastically that Jupiter and Mars are in another galaxy. As Earth’s closest planetary neighbor, Mars is the least “in another galaxy” it gets. This wouldn’t be so bad if it were a throwaway line in a verse, but it does come up in every single iteration of the hook, so it does not get the chance to be swept under the rug.
Disco does bounce back after this, with a noteworthy hook on the song “Last Chance.” Minogue takes this track and spins a situational narrative of the night winding down and giving a prospective partner one more shot at a dance with her. The sound is bright and glitzy and almost evocative of Electric Light Orchestra. There is also one song that sounds a bit more modern than the rest of the album and somewhat drops the disco pastiche to have what is almost a more modern dance/funk fusion. “Real Groove” still keeps a lot of what makes this album cohesive, but it breaks away enough from the pack that it’s a nice bit of levity that may have been better served if it had been placed more towards the middle of the album.
Speaking of the middle of the album, “I Love It” comes in a bit shakily, with somewhat bland lyrics and a weak hook that don’t quite have enough energy to propel it to catchiness. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s nothing to write home about. However, with 12 tracks on the album, almost anyone listening will find another song they prefer.
Ultimately, though, Disco closes on a high note with “Celebrate You,” which, like “Magic” before it, fills its role in regards to the position on the album. If an album opens with a song that sounds like the party is getting started, it only makes sense that the closer sounds like the last song of the night before heading home. “Celebrate You” is smooth, not terribly involved—it’s a rather easy listen.
Disco is a disco album, and it does that much successfully. If people are looking for some fun tunes to groove to or to fill out a playlist, this is a good choice.