Kylie Minogue Finds Pure Release on "Tension"

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Kaelen BellPublished Aug 31, 2023

Over 30 years into her career, Kylie Minogue suddenly had another hit on her hands. "Padam Padam" — released four months ago to a slow-growing organic fanfare that feels like a thing of the past — is the kind of song that comes to define a year (for gays, anyway); the kind of song that pop artists (newcomers and veterans alike) pray for. 

"Padam Padam" was simple, sexy and knowingly mindless, its robotic eroticism striking the precise point between modernism and sly nostalgia. Sleek and stretchy and made for movement, it now feels like a warning shot; its popularity a sure sign that we're moving from beneath the largely drab, interiority-obsessed and empty-without-knowing-it shadow of pop music's last five years. 

But how do you follow up "Padam Padam" — the kind of song that begs to be left in its vacuum of success, unburdened by expectations of replication or longevity — without fumbling? The answer, it turns out, is in cranking up the tension. 

The title track from Minogue's upcoming sixteenth studio album, "Tension" doesn't soften the whip-crack intensity of "Padam Padam" by turning to balladry or heartfelt empowerment pop. Instead, it twists the laser-focused eroticism of its predecessor into even tighter spirals, shifting between verses of taut robo-come ons and a cascading sunshower of a chorus, crashing between the two modes with a pressure-spiking precision. 

It's hot and fun and flush with colour, blowing the heaving red of "Padam Padam" into a spectrum of gasps and whistles and whispers and coos. There's little chance that "Tension" will have anywhere near the impact that its sister track did, but Minogue has stuck the landing regardless — a surefire way to follow up a massive single is with something even better. What can you say? She's a professional. 


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