Light Years (Deluxe Edition)
With the release of Light Years in 2000, Kylie Minogue wasn’t just entering a new millennium—she was stepping into her second imperial phase. Her previous two albums, 1994’s Kylie Minogue and 1997’s Impossible Princess, were pointed departures from the chart-dominating hi-NRG pop that aided her transformation from Aussie soap star to household name, and explored everything from trip-hop beats to wavy psychedelia and scuzzy indie. But while that era birthed the exquisite “Confide in Me”—one of Minogue’s most innovative and celebrated songs—neither album reached the critical or commercial heights of her prior material (reception to Impossible Princess was particularly polarized, with Minogue—who had found creative liberation in the album—parting ways with her label after its release and vowing she’d never write such personal songs again). Viewed through that lens, the effervescent disco found on Light Years might be seen as a glitzy course correction. But to dismiss the record as vapid chart-chasing obfuscates its flamboyant eccentricities and Minogue’s adept musical references. The bubbling verses on “Disco Down” riff on Abba’s “Does Your Mother Know” before laying on a syrupy chorus that’s pure Diana Ross; the poolside glimmer of “Loveboat” feels like Barry Manilow with a Y2K facelift; “Koocachoo” sounds as if The All Seeing I’s interpretation of Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On” is soaring on a sugar high. Of course, the singles proved Light Years’ success. “Spinning Around” might now be best remembered for its video and those gold hot pants, but the track is a dance-floor delight, with its slices of robotic vocoder, effusive flourishes of strings, and Minogue’s cooing come-ons, while the strobing “On a Night Like This” throbs with sweaty desire. Then there’s “Kids,” one of the 2000s’ most sexually charged duets—the chemistry between Minogue and Robbie Williams so steamy that you can still feel the heat all these years later. At the heart of the album, though, is Light Years’ crown jewel: “Your Disco Needs You.” Part call-to-arms, part fist-pumping floor-filler, unapologetically camp and gloriously extravagant, it proved so popular that fans protested Minogue’s UK label when it wasn’t made a single. Light Years was the first step into Minogue’s globe-dominating next era. After it would come 2001’s Fever—it remains her biggest ever album, on which she dragged disco and dance pop into the 21st century with an amalgam of inescapable hooks and French house production—followed by Body Language, which covered it all in a layer of sexed-up sophistication. If Light Years proved anything, it was that disco didn’t need us, it needed Kylie Minogue.