Kylie Minogue: X

Now that I’m working out more, I made a startling discovery about Kylie Minogue’s 2002 album, Fever — it’s really quite good.

At the very least, it’s good for a leisurely jog on the treadmill. But with my earphones (not earbuds!) on and the machine set to approximately 4 mph, it’s tough not to be seduced by the four-on-the-floor beats, the immediate hooks and Kylie ‘s nondescript come-hither voice.

Rockist though I may be 90 percent of the time, sometimes I just can’t help but be teh Gay. (Not that it’s any prerequisite to enjoy such pop perfection.)

For her follow-up Body Language, Kylie attempted to mature, releasing an album with a heavy underground dance influence and lacking anything resembling a single. When it failed to match the sales of Fever, she was written off. Then the cancer. Then the comeback.

Kylie ‘s tenth album, X (is it pronounced "ecks" or "ten"?), puts the singer back squarely in the prefab hit-making mode of Fever, teaming her up with a lot of the same songwriters from before.

Expect nothing confessional about her illness on this album. For her return, Kylie sets out to get the party started.

X is one track after another of hyper-compressed dance pop advocating nothing short of more, more, more. The album is loud. Really.

Where Fever felt like it had a bit of breathing room, X is claustrophobic with sound — Kylie’s thick harmonies on the chorus of "Like a Drug", the square-wave excess of "In My Arms", the super-processed "wow wow wow" on "Wow", the stabbing accompaniment of "Heart Beat Rock".

This album would probably be Exhibit A in the loudness war, but for this kind of music, it’s entirely appropriate. No one will give a fuck about how compressed it sounds when it’s pumped over the PA of a dance club.

X shows Kylie’s handlers learned their lessons from the last album. They pretty much imbued the relatively safe, reliable pop of Fever with the more adventurous arrangements of Body Language, resulting in an album with a lot more variety.

X opens with the shuffling swagger of "2 Hearts". "Sensitized" departs from the robotic disco beats for something more rhythmic. "No More Rain" eases up on the squeaky effects to come across as dreamy, while "All I See" could have been needlessly soulful with a different singer.

Of course, there are a lot of disco beats and frothy pop to go around, and it’s every bit good on the treadmill as Fever. While she may not mention one word about her bout with cancer in the music, the unbridled energy of the album perhaps makes the biggest comment.

She’s not just back, she’s back stronger.