”You ready for the change?” Kylie Minogue inquires a few numbers into her ninth album, and you think, At last — the first dance tune about menopause! It’s not to be, sadly; the legendarily cellulite-free Aussie songbird is a mere lass of 35. But that’s plenty old enough to harbor firsthand affections for a certain celebrated decade. So when she calls one new song ”I Feel for You”; enlists Scritti Politti’s erstwhile singer on ”Someday”; incorporates bits of the Lisa Lisa oldie ”I Wonder If I Take You Home” in the Ms. Dynamite-copenned ”Secret”; and liberally quotes from Janet Jackson, Chic, INXS, and Dead or Alive, one might reasonably wonder if Minogue is, as they say, livin’ in the ’80s.
Yes and — mostly — no. Body Language‘s opening single, ”Slow,” remains firmly within the realm of contemporary low-throb electro-pop, and the rest of the album is subtle and thoroughly synthetic enough that it’s easy to initially assume she’s just making her Madonna-meets-Mirwais move. That is, until you notice all those retro vocal riffs creeping in amid the electronica. On the cover, she’s striking a Nancy Sinatra-esque, ”These StairMasters are made for walkin”’ pose, but it turns out she’s less kitten with a whip than just whip-smart about creating a none-too-obvious alchemy between ’80s pop-funk and ’00s chill-out. The results are ludicrously enjoyable, and somewhere Nile Rodgers is smiling. You should be too.