Review Summary: Overall X is all over the place but somehow manages to be a complete piece.Style:
Electro/Pop, Minor urban and rock elements
In the 4 years leading to this record Kylie had a wealth of life experience to write from, her battle with cancer, the success of her re-vamped Homecoming Tour, and 20 years in the music business. One might expect her to take a look back and reflect on her growth from sugar pop princess to Madonna’s closest rival. However she plays these aspect down greatly in favor of a record focusing on the now instead of the then.
On an initial listen X may seems musically inconsistent, trying to cover the cliché tracks of today’s albums. The record is mostly dominated with electro-pop sounds. Tracks like “Speakerphone” and “Like a Drug” are strong opening numbers with Kylie using the vocoder extensity and performing in hybrid of singing and rap. The only time this technique is abused is on the track “Nu-Di-Ty” which has her removed from the track to the point anyone other female could have placed it on her record. On tracks like “Stars” and “Wow” she combines her 80s pop with her more recent dance oriented sound. This is a good combination bridging the gap from where she began to where she is now musically. Kylie continues the urban sound of her last record (Body Language) on X. “Heart Beat Rock“, “Sensitize“, and “All I See” are prime examples of her largely unnoticed expansion into the R&B. She could possibly be a step above those who are currently in the style today. Her vocals are stronger on these tracks without relying on the vocoder or auto-tune, singing with clarity and confidence.
One major criticism of the record would be the lack of personal material in light of her cancer battle. Such tracks exist put are peppered between the club bangers and urban tracks. “No More Rain” is the 1st track in which Kylie reflects on her feelings of hope to get better and make it through. The message of the song is contrasted with the up beat nature of the music which could fool a casual listen of the song. The closing track “Cosmic” is the most honest of the record, the pop production is gone leaving Kylie to sing with a orchestra-like production. The lyrics may seems cheesy and banal but one must keep in mind the event she was experiencing while writing it. “Heart Beat Rock” is probably the most cleverly written song with overlapping vocals playing on Kylie’s sensual rarely sexual nature with lines like:
I've been around the world/But I'm not those other girls
I'm feeling special do you like what you see"'
Cause I got my best dress on/Can I be your fantasy"
X musically is unfocused drawing from what is popular at the moment yet is held together by Kylie’s presence. Maybe if Kylie had split the album between the electro heavy tracks and the more urban pop rock a la Beyonce‘s I Am Sasha Fierce, X could have been more focused and memorable. However what’s done is done and Kylie now has the foundation for her next record whatever genre it will be.
Like A Drug
Heart Beat Rock