Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Storm In A D-Cup: Danniiographii Part 2 - Girl

Above: the now legendary 'Dannii Roadkill' pose was invented whilst imitating Kylie's sex-face.

Before dragging it up as a Joan Collins tribute act, Dannii actually functioned as a bona fide pop goddess and briefly overtook Kylie with a UK#4 hit whilst her sister floated at #22. The Girl album captured Dannii's specific identity as a dance artist, showing what she was truly capable of with drool-worthy classics almost from start to finish. The lyrics outline Dannii's transformation and brought out a dazzling rash of defiant numbers such as the corosive Hi-NRG mardi gras anthem Someone New and the piano-laden Alexia-esque Keep Up With The Good Times. These tracks come full circle tying in with the album's theme and title: Disremembrance ('I feel much older now, but I'm still to young to care'); Keep Up With The Good Times ('cos you ain't ever gonna break the girl'); and All I Wanna Do's masochistic obsession with turning illusion into reality, tinged with the confession that perfection does not exist (a subject which would continue to haunt her on a 2005 holiday to Ibiza).

The self-posessed vulnerability of All I Wanna Do is like a whole other galaxy and she sounds like a nervous wreck on the opening lines, longing for body contact, putting herself through inspection and making a defensive request to 'take a look inside my heart, tell me what you think you see' and nervously stripping her inner shame, asking for acceptance ('I may not be the innocent girl that you wanted me to be'). The traumatic theme of identity smoulders with her tempestuous sensuality ('sometimes I just want a lover, sometimes I don't need a friend'). '

All I wanna do is touch you' could almost be the singer directing her desire to love herself whilst not being able to believe what she sees in the mirror. The torrid momentum, augmented by Dannii's seeping vocal finally ridding herself of self-loathing with her plaintive second-guessing, aggressively persues release from her own paranoia and anguish, creating something lush, serene, and eventually tranquil.

The delicately tuneful Heaven Can Wait is overshadowed by the more emphatic 7" Edit as well as the bullet-proof cloud-skimming trance of the Trouser Enthusiasts Edit, but it's Dannii's most classic-sounding melody to date. It genuinely sounds like it has been lifted from the Burt Bacharach songbook. I even get off on her over-dubbed '(you're) touch (is driving me insane)'.

The moody speed-ballad So In Love With Yourself has deliciously caustic bite with lyrics that nip away at a vain ex lover. Blithe and indignant, the spite is very welcome and empowering, with Dannii sulking 'checking your reflection is what really turns you on, and you're loving every minute thinking everyone has gone'. Even more gripping is Kylies hanger-on willingness to try to steal her younger sister's thunder.

Dreaming is a motif, only don't tell Dannii that the dream is always denied - Dannii's familiarity with losing still doesn't defeat her, and I prefer to regard her career outcome as realism anyway. Dannii may lose, but she's far from a pure victim, because she has her music to lay open the rules of the game. And on songs such as these she comes out ahead. The breathy tide of Am I Dreaming? is incredibly lush and - yes - dreamy.

Her groaning antics echo as her soft timbre melts into pure beauty. The suave style of unsure glamour here is something new for her, and though the album may seem contemplative, masochistic is probably more like it- her desolation seems to ignite a feeling of freedom. The lyrics mourn absence and loss, and many of the effects are achieved by fabricating and then calibrating dirty sonics both electronic and organic. Fans of Olive's You're Not Alone should check it out- though this is more fragile, a spiritual accomplishment and a prettier sense of relief.

Kylie's roped in to provide backing vocals along with brother Brendan on Everybody Changes Under Water. Dannii's erotic poetry here has never done much for me and I have always believed Someone New should have been tracklisted here instead.

I am convinced that this isn't intrinsically about death, but its subject is the end of a love affair, plain as the nose on her face, and at times its bleakness is overrated- it's duration reminds me all too acutely of how the minutes crawl when the love connection is broken. The nakedness of Dannii's ghostly whispers is backed up with groundbreaking breathing noises.

Every Thong I Wanted is a song of close inspection - it could be another song catching a glimpse of herself and coaching a new personal attitude. The TOTP performance was what drew me in: it's very alluring and distills a lot of the darker qualities that many people associate with the unique release of a Dannii Minogue song. It has a glinting, tentative vulnerability to it.

Below: Dannii's fans take a lot of knockers.
Of course, the Xeonomania dance remix puts her on a pedestal, which makes it more vigalantly exposed - the track ripples as it comes into focus, which is my favourite thing about it. I think it would have stood a better commercial chance in this form, but it's a tough call. That is to say, much of these songs - Am I Dreaming?, Heaven Can Wait and EIW - are very sparse and delicate, therefore don't have thw colossal appeal that All I Wanna Do had.

If It Moves - Dubt It was most likely intended as a kind of Deee-Lite doodlebeat throwaway exercise. It doesn't infect the listener with much fun beyond Dannii's 'I wanna see you mooouve it' groaning, which sounds like an aerobics instructor talking in their sleep.

The majestic trance spritzer Disremembrance is a teary-eyed poppers o'clock emotional tsunami, and perfect 90s gay bar fodder. Illuminating, orchestral, and possible to imagine Ladyton penning it for Whigfield. Dannii soars in desperate need yet defends her priorities ('I feel much older now, but I'm still too young to care'). Her triumphant vocal form is liquid sadness - the thrilling singing defends her lust with a necessary sense of entitlement. Kylie's vocal traces are blown away to Uranus.

With more deep breaths from Dannii than contemplating what sun lounger to use, It's Amazing turned out to be the album's best kept secret non-secret-track weapon.

Movin' Up was an unequivocal nod to her puppy-phat boppers such as Jump To The Beat, with consensual sensual moanings of agreement. The giddy and exciteable vocals decorate her best recorded squeeling since Party Jam.

The fag-end of Girl is a hidden treasure. Australian-only single Coconut is one of the most eccentric productions in her idiosyncratic cannon. 'So let me get this straight' is clearly tongue-in-cheek as the track hyperventilates into the campest productions she ever put her name to.

Someone New is a gutsy hell-bent for revenge song, fueled by fury and defiant disgust as Dannii mocks her ex-lover to satisfying levels of megalomania ('each night I was alone with you I could see myself with someone new'). Dannii is really up for it, and the spat-out chorus purges everything all out.

Keep Up With The Good Times is a rampant utopian Euro-dance number spalttered with Italo-house pinano keys. Even if she is a little battered and bruised (surgically and emotionally), there is just something so endearing about this track - it's so giddy and wistfully optimistic.

For most dance-pop artists, compilations are the top prize, and yet as Dannii Minogue fans are bestowed with many collections, her top draw was a flop studio album that nobody bought in 1997. Redeem yourself now.


Mike said...

Stunning commentary on one of my favourite albums of all time.

Diva Incarnate said...

Thanks Mike, it really does get better with time as well.

I can't wait to read your thoughts on The 1995 Sessions when it's out.

Deirdre Halliwell said...

Disremembrance is one of my fave songs of all time. By Dannii i mean.

Utopia is a word that springs to mind.

Or maybe i am just high on polish fumes again?