Apr 3, 2002 at 12:00 am

Only when she’s dancing can she feel this free: Since her 1988 remake of “The Locomotion,” Kylie Minogue’s played pop’s harlot, starlet and girl-next-door, but it wasn’t until her self-reinvention as Eurodisco’s retro-futuristic dancing queen on 2000’s Light Years that the diva from Down Under truly came into her own. A Hi-NRG blast of invigoratingly synth-etic, way-gay club anthems (“Your Disco Needs You”), that album’s rubber-band biorhythms didn’t ask if you liked to boogie woogie — they demanded you do nothing but. Even Minogue got into the groove like never before, sounding, perhaps for first time ever, totally entranced by the songs she was singing.

With this follow-up to Light Years, Minogue’s finally poised to liberate American dance floors from wannabes like Christina A. et al. Infinitely better than its predecessor and paced to delirious perfection, Fever is the most instantly enjoyable, inescapable and predictably pro-homo pop album since Madonna’s Music. If you hate her current single, the la-la-la-addictive “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” then, forewarned is forearmed: There are 11 more identical and insidiously catchy, Abba-gone-android anthems — hits, all of ’em.

Infectious ain’t necessarily impressive, of course, so what sets Minogue’s wonderfully overprocessed pop apart from that of every other dime-a-dozen dance diva is that she never overwhelms her material with her larger-than-life persona. Like Aaliyah — who rode, not drove, her beats — Minogue lets the ditties speak for themselves; like her fans, she’s just happy to be along for the ride. So while the increasingly elitist Madonna stumbles by thinking her songs are about her, Minogue is not so vain. She knows Fever isn’t about her — it’s about fans letting their bodies move to the music. So get up on the dance floor ’cause her disco needs you.

E-mail Jimmy Draper at [email protected].