Rhythm of Love is Kylie Minogue's third studio album which was released on November 12, 1990 by Mushroom Records and PLW.
Kylie Minogue relocated to London after filming her final scenes for "Neighbours" between June and July 1988. She attempted to steer her public image away from her character Charlene Robinson, a schoolgirl turned garage mechanic (whom she felt at that point was merely an "exploitation" to her career).
In April 1989, it was announced that Minogue had accepted the lead role of Lola Lovell in her debut feature film, "The Delinquents." She believed the role as a rebellious and passionate country girl, who suffers through an abortion during her teenage years and has several love scenes in the film, would establish herself as a serious actress.
Principal photography of The Delinquents began in May and lasted about two months, coinciding with the recording process of her sophomore album, "Enjoy Yourself."
Released in late 1989, both albums received commercial success, but also received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom considered them as failed attempts to differentiate her girl-next-door image.
Minogue first met INXS frontman Michael Hutchence at the Countdown awards show in July 1987. They started a romantic affair in Hong Kong in September 1989, just days before her first concert tour, "Disco in Dream" opened.
In December of that same year, she broke up with her three-years partner and Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan over the telephone and subsequently went to the Australian premiere for "The Delinquents" with Hutchence, publicly announced their relationship to intense attention.
Minogue also lent her voice to "Do They Know It's Christmas?", an all-star ensemble charity single to raise funds for famine in Ethiopia. Produced by SAW, it was the Christmas number-one single on the UK Singles Chart and the ninth biggest-selling single of 1989.
As alternative rock and techno entered the musical mainstream, the SAW producers struggled to find their audience. They became more aware of their gay following, who still embraced their pop output—Mike Stock pointed out the strong appeal their "pure pop songs about love, life, and feelings" had towards women and a certain amount of male audience, including gay men.
The trio also acknowledged Minogue's evolving public image and discussed how to change the emphasis both musically and lyrically in her next album. They decided to subtly move on from her previous material to avoid alienate her fans.
"Rhythm of Love" was recorded for six months in the spring and summer of 1990. One of their earliest songs was "Better the Devil You Know" (which was recorded in three hours in London during the "Enjoy Yourself Tour" in March). They tried to adopt a more fitting approach for the current music market.
Matt Aitken stated they took many cues from techno music, and felt that "pure pop [songs] had run its course" at the time.
Due to Pete Waterman's background as a popular DJ in gay clubs, PWL co-owner David Howells thought that making more club-oriented songs for Minogue was simply "inevitable".
Meanwhile, Stock was not familiar with the genre and felt "[alienated] in many respects." They also had to update their rhythm tracks to match the Roland 909 sound, which was popular back then.
Aitken said: "We struggled to make it sound more like what everybody else was doing at the time, but we got there in the end."
The song "Step Back in Time" was one of the tracks recorded in late July. In London, the sessions occurred at the PWL Studios
The album marked a stage where Minogue began to take more control over her workload. She came up with a lot of ideas visually and took inspirations from American singer Madonna and her 1989 studio album, "Like a Prayer."
Before starting to work on "Rhythm of Love", Minogue asked not to record all the tracks with the SAW producers, to which they accepted. Pete Waterman recalled: "She was going to clubs, seeing different people, hearing different things... I knew the artist was going to want to get involved.
In March, Minogue took a trip to Los Angeles, California to enlist the help of other music producers from the United States; those sessions with Keith Cohen, Michael Jay, and Madonna's longtime collaborator Stephen Bray eventually produced four tracks ("The World Still Turns", "One Boy Girl", "Count the Days" and "Rhythm of Love") all of which credited Minogue as co-writer for the first time.
Hutchence held a key position to the process; he was with her in the sessions, listened to the rough tapes and gave advice towards her songwriting.
Minogue said, "[Hutchence] really does help me and influence me a lot... He encourages me to be myself and go for it." In Los Angeles, the sessions took place at Trax Recording, Ultimo, Ground Control Studio, Scotland Yard, Larrabee Sound, and Saturn Sound.
- Better The Devil You Know 3:52
- Step Back In Time 3:03
- What Do I Have To Do 3:45
- Secrets 4:04
- Always Find The Time 3:33
- The World Still Turns 4:00
- Shocked 4:46
- One Boy Girl 4:23
- Things Can Only Get Better 3:54
- Count The Days 4:20
- Rhythm Of Love 4:15
"Rhythm of Love" was not as much of a commercial success as Minogue's previous albums. It debuted and peaked at number nine on the UK Albums Chart, becoming her third consecutive top-ten entry and her first studio album not to reach number one. It fell to number sixteen the following week and stayed inside top twenty for a total of five weeks.
The album returned at number sixty-two in June 1991 and stayed on the chart for three more weeks. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for selling 100,000 copies on 6 December 1990.
In Ireland, the album peaked at number two on the album chart on 28 October 1990, as reported by Music & Media.
In her native Australia, the album debuted at number seventeen. It climbed to number thirteen the following week, but fell afterwards.
When Minogue was promoting her Rhythm of Love Tour, it peaked at number 10 in the week of 10 March 1991, becoming her third top-ten studio album four months after its release.
Later that year, the album was certified platinum by Australian Recording Industry Association for selling 70,000 in the region.
In New Zealand, the album only spent a sole week on the charts at number thirty-six. It performed similarly in Sweden, only peaking at number forty-four on the charts there.
In Spain, the album reached number twenty-six and stayed in the charts for ten weeks, later being certified gold by the Productores de Música de España for selling 50,000 copies.
"Rhythm of Love" peaked at number seventy-six and spent seven weeks on the album chart in Netherland.
In France, it peaked at number twenty-five and later became the seventy-ninth best-selling album of the year in the region.
In Japan, the album peaked at number thirty-two on the Oricon Albums Chart and sold 67,000 copies as of 2006.
"Rhythm of Love" received general positive reviews. In a three-stars out of five review, Chris True of AllMusic considered it to be a "more complete album" than Minogue's previous output, benefited from the songwriting, production and her "confident [vocals]" and termed it her best work during the Stock Aitken Waterman years.
Writing for Digital Spy, Nick Levine similarly labeled the album as Minogue best effort despite its uneven nature towards the end. He cited the strong choice for singles as the main reason that made the album "well worth another listen."
Jeremy Mark of Number One was impressed by the "catchy" and "memorable" material, praising "Step Back in Time" and "Better the Devil You Know" as two of the singer's finest singles.
In a review for the 2015 reissue of Rhythm of Love, Joe Sweeney of PopMatters felt the album "clears up the mess" from Minogue's first releases by "letting [her] natural charisma and underrated voice" to shine. He commended the producers for "[taking] a big step in the right direction" and rated the album eight-stars out of ten, higher than any of her album under PWL.
By contrast, Select's Andrew Harrison was disappointed by Minogue's mature appeal to the audience, saying it was "a post-pubescent at least", and criticized the "useless" collaboration with other producers.
Marc Andrews from Smash Hits also commented that the album "is not as 'different' as it could have been" with the majority of familiar dance tunes, but found it was "pretty much a cracking pop outing" overall.
In retrospect, "Rhythm of Love" is considered to be a definitive turning point in Minogue's career. Oliver Hurley from Classic Pop wrote that the album "marks the high-water mark of the singer's entire PWL period" while helping Minogue "[flexing] her compositional skills."
In another review from the same publication, Wade noticed it was "certainly contemporaneous to the mood of the new decade", one that "set Minogue up for the rest of her career". He ultimately commented that the album was "an underrated classic that richly deserves its due."
In 2018, Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine selected the album as Minogue's strongest effort during PWL-era based on the singles choice alone. He acknowleged the producers put Minogue "somewhere near, if not in, the same league as her female chart rivals for the first time."
Ernest Macias from Entertainment Weekly cited "Rhythm of Love" to be the first album that "fully understand the sound and essence of a Minogue song, and her entire career for that matter", one that "spropelled by her angelic vocals, sensual music videos, chic fashion, and distinct dance sound."
It was one of Kylie Minogue's only three studio albums to receive a four-star rating from British writer Colin Larkin in the "Encyclopedia of Popular Music" (besides "Light Years" and "Fever").