Tension (Deluxe)

Tension (Deluxe)

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sets Tension apart from other Kylie Minogue albums. Everything we’ve come to expect from Minogue in the 35 years she’s been an integral force in pop culture—immaculate pop melodies infused with rapturous joie de vivre and a flirty attitude—is present. And yet, there is an intangible quality permeating Tension, making the familiar sound fresh and new. “I think it’s a natural confidence and acceptance of where I am,” Minogue tells Apple Music. “I’ve got more to say and I feel at ease to say much of it.” After 2018’s country-inspired Golden and 2020’s lockdown-blues-busting Disco, the Australian pop icon started work on what would become her 16th studio album, with “no vision”, just the guiding principle: “As long as it’s not boring”. Richard “Biff” Stannard, the Spice Girls producer who has worked with Minogue since her triumphant return to pop music on 2000’s Light Years, was her first port of call. “Biff knows pop, he knows indie, he knows cool, he knows me, and we love flitting around different sounds and genres, so it’s such a great place for me to start,” says Minogue. “Tentatively, no pressure. We try to just make it play, in the beginning.” That playful energy is at the core of Tension, perhaps best captured in the erotically charged title track, as well as “Things We Do for Love”—a high-octane blast of effervescent dance-pop—and “Hands”, on which Minogue raps (yes, really). This deluxe edition also features three extra tracks, including “Somebody to Love”, a tender, synth-led midtempo that emerged from the project’s earliest sessions. “We unearthed it for the bonus tracks and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, we love this song!’ It’s like a hug,” Minogue says. Then there’s “Padam Padam”, the pulsing floor-filler that sent the world into a viral state of pop emergency, affectionately dubbed “the Padam-ic”, when it was released in May 2023. “Who knew it would kick off in this manner? That’s just been the icing on top of the cake,” says Minogue of “Padam Padam”. But it should come as no surprise to anyone loosely familiar with Minogue’s tendency to shatter expectations—something she admits is no accident. “It’s determination and belief and inspiration from real-life human stories that my music has played a part in,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I just don’t know how I’m going to do it. The balance of that is the struggle. But I am determined and I love it.” Read on to find out more about each song on Tension, in her own words. “Padam Padam” “I heard the demo and loved it. I thought, ‘This is amazing.’ And then once I’d self-recorded my vocals and put them in, I thought, ‘What’s more, this is amazing for me.’ I really felt like I was almost fused to this song, and we became greater than the sum of our parts.” “Hold on to Now” “I deeply, deeply love this song. The ‘na-na-na’ melody is from a voice note I sent to Biff [Stannard] in 2021, and a few months later, we built it up from there. Sonically, I think it’s beautiful. I heard it on some amazing speakers recently and I was fully transported—it felt connected and ‘other’ to me. I just really allowed myself to swim in it. I love that I feel like I’m asking the existential and immediate questions in one. But it’s about searching—when you’re so busy searching for answers, you forget being in the present. That’s why that speaks to me. I’m really very fond of it.” “Things We Do for Love” “The word this song brings to mind is ‘cardio’. It’s got a bit of a Footloose feel. There’s no respite, it just keeps going and going, and the energy builds. ‘Things We Do for Love’ was written on the same day as ‘Tension’, when [UK songwriters and producers] Kamille and Anya [Jones] came in. It took quite a bit of time at the back end in finishing the song, working out how to shape it so that the drive keeps going. It’s a weird structure, but I think it worked out really well.” “Tension” “The initial version was really out of place, and I wasn’t sure it would make the album. The lyrics were pretty edgy, the robo-voice was much more exaggerated—it just sounded very deep club. As it evolved, it was softened and finessed. Again, it was the shaping of the song that really stood out to me—it’s like a roller coaster ride, there are little diffusers that balance the song. You get on in the intro, with the piano stabs, it takes you up and up, closer and closer to the climax, it gets so edgy…then it drops. The bass comes in and you fly down that first big dipper. Then the second time it’s about to happen, you know what to expect, and your excitement level is even higher, because you know how thrilling it was.” “One More Time” “This started as another song. We parked it, but I really liked the track and I didn’t want to waste it. The week we were in Surrey [for a writing camp with Minogue’s ‘bezzies’ Duck Blackwell (Halsey) and Jon Green (Paloma Faith)], I had another idea—the ‘Slow down/Work it on out’ part—which was opposite to what we had already written. Jon came in with ‘I know your star sign/What’s on your bedside’ and there was a real cute attitude with it. It’s light and fun. The lyrics are revisiting, if not a relationship, at least a dalliance—it may or may not be romantic. There’s nothing deep in there, but it’s got a freedom to it.” “You Still Get Me High” “This started with Biff and Jon, and it was slower, more indulgent. I wanted to see if there was any potential with it, so I mentioned it to Duck one day and said, ‘I’d love you to be part of it and get your take on it.’ I think the combination of Biff, Duck, Jon and myself—we just enhance each other. A lot of the euphoria comes from Jon, who is ‘the feels’; Biff’s got his pop brain permanently on. Then Duck brought it into line with what the album was becoming. It’s a bit of a split-personality song—I particularly love the end, with all the ad libs.” “Hands” “My A&R manager Jamie Nelson prefaced sending me the demo of ‘Hands’ with, ‘I know you’re not a rapper, but I’ve got this idea…’ And of course, I’m way too curious and willing to give it a try, but I had to work a lot on trying to morph it to be ‘me’. I wish I’d known earlier that the vocal [on the demo] was a male voice pitched to be in a ‘woman’s’ register, because that made me feel a bit better about how I couldn’t quite access the start of it. So the very beginning of the first verse is not me—we just left [the demo vocal] on the track—but the rest is, and I think I got my syncopation down fine. It’s the kind of fun, sunny-day song where, if anyone starts singing one segment, you have to keep going. You really can’t stop. I first listened to the demo in the car with my friend—windows down, sun shining—and it made perfect sense.” “Green Light” “‘Green Light’ is quite surprising to me. I think it might be a cousin to ‘Spinning Around’—it’s not as overt, it’s quite breezy and chill. But I did a listening party in a club in New York and before we played this song I said, ‘There aren’t that many relaxed, chill moments on the album, but this might be one of them.’ I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sometimes you don’t know. ‘Green Light’ slapped, as I believe they say. It definitely sits in the groove.” “Vegas High” “I knew I was doing the Vegas residency, so I went with Biff and Duck to meet [artist and writer] Gerard O’Connell for the first time, and the four of us squashed into this tiny little studio to do a song related to Vegas. That was the mission for the day. We were talking about a romanticised, cinematic version of Vegas—driving to Vegas, when the roads get a bit more dusty and there’s a glimmering, almost like an oasis, or if you’re flying in at night and it’s much of nothing, and then there’s that little wonderland of Vegas—and the story unfolded really quickly. ‘Capture the magic and hold it in your hand.’ I recorded it there and then.” “10 Out of 10” (Oliver Heldens feat. Kylie Minogue) “This was originally just going to be for [Dutch DJ] Oliver. His team randomly reached out to my team and I thought, ‘This is fun, I can see people strutting along to this track.’ It’s another one that was quite difficult for me to get access to. The girl who did the demo has a wild voice—very different to mine—and a natural attitude. I never want to sound like a bad carbon copy, but because I can self-record now, I often will. I’m free to be a bad carbon copy and take on the best of what they’ve done, then wean myself off and find out where I fit. It wasn’t intended for my album, but we embraced it and I think it’s a nice addition.” “Story” “It meant so much to me to write this song. I don’t get into what the difficulty was, but I had to overcome some things and get through a difficult period, and I’m acknowledging that for my sake. There’s something about the dichotomy of the aloneness you feel and the help you get from people who will support you through any difficulty that I can’t put in words as well as I put it in the lyrics. Once you get through it, you appreciate that the people who were helping you will never know how much they are part of your story and how much they have helped you, in ways that you can never repay them. I was so delighted by the number of people who came up to me at the listening parties to say that they love ‘Story’. I felt so moved, and vindicated really, that it’s not just speaking to me and the people I love, but to others as well. And they’ll take from it what they will.”

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