Impossibly Kylie | A Look Back at Kylie Minogue’s Most Interesting and Daring Album To Date
The mid-90s were a turning point in Kylie Minogue’s career. She was transitioning out of the sugary pop she started her career with and into a more mature sound and image. She would sign with Deconstruction Records in 1993 and embark on a new sound. By 1995, she had collaborated with Nick Cave on the song “Where the Wild Roses Grow” for his Murder Ballads album. It would be her interactions with Cave and her then boyfriend Stephane Sedonaoui that would spark her creativity. She began to heavily focus on songwriting freely experimenting with different genres (trip-hop, indie rock, and electronica). What came of this two year process is her 1997 album Impossible Princess. The production and writing for the album saw Kylie’s hand in every song. She even is credited with some synth work on the album. Compared to her prior work, Impossible Princess did not fair well. This would ultimately mark the end of her time with Deconstruction Records. To this day, the album still has a confident and bold sound that makes it a delight to revisit.
The first single off the record, “Some Kind of Bliss”, is a indie rock inspired track. The electric keys and guitar are prominent on this track, something that had yet to happen in Minogue’s prior works. Kylie’s words speak on enjoying the time you have for what it is and not to be overwhelmed by your anxieties, “Study my reflection/ And let the colors fall/ Slip into stillness/ And be above it all/ Good to be here/ Time to be alone/ I’ve found a space where I belong/ Not succumb to fear”. The indie sound would be revisited in an even more lush manner on “I Don’t Need Anyone”. A fluttering blend of flutes, strings, and guitars rush past you like a warm summer breeze. The sonic backdrop matches the euphoric feeling she over the mystery gentleman, “A kiss from you/ Still on my lip/ I am entire/ I am finally one/ But the the moment/ Is long gone/ I don’t need anyone/ Except for someone that I don’t know”.
The album’s second single, “Did It Again”, would add a little eastern influence in with the indie pop sound. The song sees Minogue chastising herself for letting her mind get the best of her, “You did it again, you did it again/ Won’t you listen to me?/ When I’m telling you/ It’s no good for you/ You know it’s all in your head/ You better put that business to bed/ By your fair hands of design/ You met with the monster in your mind”. The music video to the track pokes fun at the many “sides” of Kylie (i.e. Sex Kylie, Dance Kylie, Cute Kylie, and Indie Kylie).
The third single, “Breathe”, is much more representative of the album’s over all sound. Drawing inspiration from trip-hop, the song has an almost spacey tone. It’s bubbling synth and wash of warm synth pads work to have you float gently throughout the song. Minogue’s slow breathy delivery only further to add a relaxed tone to the track. Lyrically, she is taking us through her mind as she gathers her thoughts and quells her anxieties, “This time, this void/ I’m making my way through the muddy minutes/ The pull is in my muscle/ The ache is in my bones/ It’s hard to be alone/ Breathe, breathe, it won’t be long now”. The video version of the song speeds up the tempo a bit removing the more languid delivery, infusing it with more energy.
The opening track “Too Far” would be one of the first tracks Minogue would create for the album. She has said in a 97 interview that the track was borne out of a dark and oppressive mindset at the time. She would contribute the piano section to the track when recording it with Brothers in Rhythm. The blend of dark tones and Kylie’s hastened delivery makes the song feel oppressive and slightly constricting. She very much mirrors this emotion in the song’s lyrics, “Caught up in this house/ Trapped my very own self / In the snare of my mind/ No more space than a slither/ What I’d give for a deep breath inside/ Where the chaos has my captive/ Where there’s no exist sign/ Where I fuel the stupid fire / With these feeling of mine…”. This track is definitely one of my favorites on the album. She would revisit the track live on her Greatest Hits: Homecoming tour in 2006.
The final single released from the album is the electro-folk track “Cowboy Style”. The blend of almost tribal beats, fiddle, and electric guitar put this song on a whole different level.
“Limbo” was Kylie’s original choice as a lead single off the album. The record label thought “Some Kind of Bliss” was a much better fit. The song was included on the single. It’s trip-hop/electronica roots are much more pronounced than the prior tracks. The driving momentum carries us through Minogue’s internal wants verses her stressful reality, “Time has no meaning, all of it wasted/ It smothers me ’til there’s no more air/ When will it be that I can breathe again?/ I’m waiting in the void/ (Limbo) Lost in limbo”. The limbo she sings of being her overwhelming reality and her consuming anxiety. “Drunk” takes on passion. “I’m not happy drunk til I’m drunken/ Till you take all of me”, she sings demanding he drop his walls around him so she can see all of him. Compared to the two tracks listen above, “Through the Years” takes on a more languorous flow. The song waxes on the end of a relationship and how it soured over time, “Ooh you blinded me with all your light/ I wish I could see now/ Promises and lies ignite the fire/ And I wonder why/ I believed in you/ Through the years”. “Say Hey” is probably the most intimate song on the album. Minogue sensually sings, “I’m missing you/ I wish you were with me/ The water’s warm/ It’s making me in the mood to play/ So good to disturb you/ If you please/ I need to say/ Hey”. Clearly she’s yearning for the touch and caress of her lover. The final song on the album, “Dreams”, shimmers in the blossoming sound of synths and strings. Kylie’s words create an interesting tale of what fame has to offer, “To know the power of wealth and poverty/ To taste every moment and try everything…Living in chaos and harmony/ To feel the touch of a man, a woman’s caress/ To know the limit of torture and tenderness/ These are the dreams of an Impossible Princess”. It’s another of my favorites off the album due to her vivid imagery.
The death of Princess Diana would spur a title change in the U.K. to Kylie Minogue (which consequently is the name of her prior album). The album did make it to number 4 in Australia, only to fall out of the top ten the following week. Critics were not as kind to the album and it would be one of her lowest performing albums to date. Deconstruction would ultimately drop her from their label. She would sign with Parlophone and reignite her career masterfully with the disco infused “Spinning Around”. In some interview, Minogue seems to have some sense of sadness around the project and its failure. To date, she has not repeated the sound or experimentation she did on this record. It may have not been the beacon of hits like Light Years or Fever, but it shines as one of her most intriguing and fulfilling listens. Some of the highlights on the album include:
- “Too Far”
- “Cowboy Style”