Since disco music is seeing an unexpected revival in a year with no dance floors, Australian diva Kylie Minogue inevitably made an appearance. Her November release, aptly titled Disco (BMG), doesn’t disappoint, if little depth is expected. Minogue has never been known for powerful vocals, but for tight arrangements and exuberant performance. Here, minor keys and flourishes in tracks like “Monday Blues” and “Say Something” provide the effervescence of late 1970s Van McCoy or Miami Sound Machine.
But Minogue has plenty of competition, including British dance queen Jessie Ware’s midsummer release, What’s Your Pleasure? (Virgin). And on the quirky side of dance, Irish vocalist Roisin Murphy conjures a funky form of EDM in Roisin Machine (Skint Records), even if the longer psychedelic tracks don’t provide as much of an aerobic workout as Minogue. Even mainstream pop is expanding, as the two-disc edition of Ellie Goulding’s Brightest Blue (Polydor) adds disco beats and one of the last backing vocals of deceased hip-hop artist Juice WRLD. The disco revival will seem richer once fans can move beyond TikTok routines in their living rooms.
Also New & Noteworthy
Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche, I Can Still Hear You (Storysound) – Suzzy Roche of the three-sister ensemble The Roches recorded two albums with Lucy, her daughter by Loudon Wainwright, but nothing carries the direct weight of this pandemic album. The sessions began in Nashville but concluded in a locked-down New York. The loss of Suzzy’s mother and sister inform the album, as do lamentations on human behavior. The mother-daughter harmonies match The Roches’ best work, and tracks like “Ruins” and “Swan (Duck) Song” feature the best songwriting a Roche has ever produced.
Joey Molland, Be True to Yourself (Omnivore) – Badfinger guitarist and lyricist Molland has been MIA since a 2013 Memphis session, but this lively release picks up as though no time had passed, with a powerful band featuring Mark Hudson, Steve Holley, Micky Dolenz and even Julian Lennon on background vocals. All 10 tracks feature a ’70s piano-and-horns swagger without trying to emulate the specific power-pop style of Badfinger.