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Album Review

After a brief burst of success in the early '90s, the career of Dannii Minogue seemed to be over, the failure of her second album Get Into You signposting her as another flash in the pan clinging to the coattails of a more famous sibling. Or so it seemed. After a three year absence the younger Minogue returned with an updated sound and a striking new look. Where the cover of her debut album Love and Kisses depicted Dannii as a slightly plain girl next door, the Girl artwork is sleek and sexy, with Minogue sporting newly blonde hair and a tanned, toned body. The music too was no longer so concerned with aping American trends; it was clearly influenced by the British dance club sounds of the mid-'90s. In short, Dannii was finally carving an identity for herself, and her decision to drop her famous surname from her records at this point was highly significant. Lead single "All I Wanna Do" was a stunning and unexpected comeback. Written by Brian Higgins, who would later write "Believe" for Cher, and the majority of Girls Aloud's hits, it arguably went further into club territory than any Kylie single that had preceded it, and a number of enormously popular remixes saw it topping the club charts and sailing into the U.K. Top Five, the biggest hit of her career at that point. Elsewhere, Girl is impressive in its consistency, not just in quality but in direction. Where Love and Kisses was heavy on filler and Get Into You was a bit too varied to work as a collection, Girl remains true to the image and sounds established on that fantastic lead single. "So in Love with Yourself" is a cold and contemptuous attack on a vain former lover with an impressively aloof vocal, and "Everything I Wanted" is a sophisticated and understated trance song which made a commercially disastrous but extremely interesting second single. Once again it was a bigger hit in the clubs than it was in the U.K. charts. The centerpiece of the album is third single "Disremembrance." Clocking in at over eight minutes in its original form, it mixes trance beats with sweeping orchestral strings and soul searching lyrics you'd normally associate more with an artist like Björk than a fairly lightweight dance diva. Released too long after the album had lost momentum, the track stalled outside the U.K. Top 20, but it was yet another club hit and remains by far one of Dannii's best loved songs. A few strange choices interrupt the flow of the album in places, such as an extended dub mix of the track "Movin' Up" (titled "If It Moves...Dub It") placed halfway through the album, and the trippy, six-minute spoken word "Everybody Changes Underwater," but all in all, Girl is an exciting and forward thinking return from a singer who most critics had long since written off. Like Janet Jackson before her, Dannii had stepped out of her famous elder sibling's shadow and emerged as an artist worth watching.

Girl, Dannii Minogue
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