She Didn't Do It Again: Kylie Minogue - Impossible Princess

She Didn’t Do It Again: Kylie Minogue – Impossible Princess

By the beginning of 1996, Kylie Minogue has split from Stock, Aitken and Waterman, released her eponymous LP in 1994, and was throwing caution to the wind. Just the year before she had duetted with Nick Cave on ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow” and had appeared in several high-profile films that had flopped, but she had begun the process of recording the follow-up. She had surprisingly performed ‘Little Baby Nothing‘ with the Manic Street Preachers at Shepherds Bush Empire and allegedly had been due to record the song for Generation Terrorists but it never happened whilst in SAW’s clutches.

Parallels can be drawn with future collaborator Robbie Williams who released his debut LP in 1997 that leant heavily on the Indie Britpop sound that was, at that time, just in the throes of its death rattle as Be Here Now reared its huge, bloated head with white powder around its nose, as another former pop star trying for credibility but this is far from an indie rock record, it is far more indebted to techno and EDM.

Of course, Impossible Princess had the last part dropped as the passing of Princess Diana prompted a quick rethink to prevent seeming crass but also added a few brownie points. It could be argued that Kylie’s star was on the wane by the time we get to 1997, her previous eponymous LP peaked at No.4 and ‘Confide In Me’ was a No.2 hit, only being kept off the top by Wet, Wet, Wet and *that* song, but the other two singles failed to break the Top 10 and this change in style for the follow-up record did smack a tiny bit of bandwagon jumping just as the horse was about to be shot.

However, the lazy assumption that because ‘Some Kind of Bliss’ was as “rock“ as the Pop Princess had ever gone, and that this LP would be the birth of Indie Kylie, haven’t listened to it all as the beginning of this record is more indebted to Trip-hop such as Tricky on ‘Too Far’, and even the likes of Norman Cook‘s ‘Brimful of Asha’ remix, on ‘Cowboy Style’ which did verge dangerously towards cultural appropriation, although no one was too concerned with that at the time.

The infamous track itself, with it being the lead single, and its penning by a certain James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore of the Manic Street Preachers, lead to the Indie Kylie label. What also helped was its producer was Dave Eringa, who had worked on the Manics’ Gold Against the Soul and breakthrough album, Everything Must Go, and was producing their follow up This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. Although, only this and ‘I Don’t Need Anyone’ were written by James and Sean with Eringa at the desk.

The remaining ten tracks are split between Brothers in Rhythm, Dave Ball (of Soft Cell fame), Ingo Vauk, and Rob Dougan, all of which specialise in trip hop and electronic music. Kylie wrote all the lyrics and was involved with the composition of all the songs on the album, whilst living close to Real World Studios in Wiltshire.

The result of all the collaborations is a diverse record but arguably a little too eclectic to the point where the songs with the Manics involvement are a touch incongruous, however there are cuts that have stood the test of time.

Did It Again’ is a bonafide pop banger with a healthy slab of guitar and a touch of Bhangra thrown in, and ‘Breathe’ is in the same ballpark as ‘Confide In Me’ with a strong Trip-Hop influence and a synth hook that they could use as evidence in a law suit against the writers of ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints.

The record does tail off a bit; all four singles taken from the LP can be found at tracks 2, 3, 4 and 5, which means that Side B is a bit on the light side. In fact ‘Say Hey’ which arrives next and theoretically closes Side A has a heavy Faithless feel and would work very well in any Trance club. All in all it means the first half is an excellent listen, but also that it is quite top heavy.

‘Drunk’ kicks off the second half and is a bit too generic dance with a nod to Rave which Kylie tries to save with an impressive vocal performance, ranging from the intense to the euphoric. Would probably have been lapped up by the Ibiza clubs.

It next jumps to the other Manics’ penned track, ‘I Don’t Need Anyone’ which is very reminiscent of the weaker efforts from TIMT,TMY fast paced, dappled in strings and a bit of a half-baked guitar solo. Its pleasant enough but is a strange leap from ‘Drunk’.

The LP then dives back down the Trip-Hop rabbit hole and comes out the other side a bit Portishead on ‘Jump’.

‘Limbo’ feels like Vauk or Ball had been listening to Republica before they arrived at the studio. It’s quite forgettable besides the ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ guitar rip off.

‘Through The Years’ again is saved by a sultry vocal by Kylie as the backing is very derivative of late 80’s soul pop, with some horrendous sax shronking.

‘Dreams’ ties things up by trying to be epic and anthemic with classical violins and tribal drums but it all feels a bit unnatural.

What this LP does do is show Kylie wasn’t afraid of being experimental and pushing boundaries. You can tell when she is most comfortable but pushing herself out of those zones at the very least shows she isn’t just happy with being given chart pop tracks to give her another hit.

At the time it was her bravest record and whilst it didn’t provide the big hits, they were just around the corner and Kylie had a bit of credibility and respect post-SAW.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.