Many of us know the sheek, Milla Jovovich-esque Kimbra from Gotye’s mega-hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” You know the one–nude, forlorn Gotye who slowly transforms into an abstract, geometric-painted figure as Kimbra sing-screams into his face. The song achieved critical success–making its rounds in alternative and indie music circles–and put Kimbra on the map.
So, what has this New Zealand pop singer been up to since?
Kimbra hit the studio and churned out an eclectic, alt-pop album titled “The Golden Echo,” in 2014. The album, far left from mainstream pop, is a mix of R&B, trap beats and disco slinks. The follow-up definitely broke her debut mold of “Gotye’s counterweight,” and Kimbra set off in multiple directions musically. She did a little bit of everything, jumping genre’s and styles. This time around, she had some new material to show off.
Kimbra’s third studio album “Primal Heart”–featuring Childish Gambino, Dirty Projectors, David Longstreth, and Skrillex–is due to release this spring. It was supposed to come out last month, but got pushed to April. But, that didn’t stop her from playing a lot of new music Monday night at the Cedar Cultural Center.
She kicked things off with “Version of Me,” a celestial pop ballad that slowly builds, filled with long vocal runs, and an 80’s-esque electronic keyboard backdrop. It was a slow track to lead with. But then, in one continuous flow, the keyboard began to gradually pick up speed.
A sound reminiscent of Beach House’s Lazuli, the keys whirred a music-box synth tone–cycling, building. Then, with a sudden swell of electronic drums, Kimbra impelled into her next track, “Hi Def Distance Romance.” The pixels and fragments of a past lover came into picture as the static, glitchy melody became more and more refined–eventually dropping to just a raw drum beat and vocals as Kimbra belted out the chorus.
“The signal we got’s breaking up, breaking up, breaking up. Glitching the picture of you my love, hi def distance”
It was a fresh intro. But, she really had the crowd swaying with her fan-favorite “Settle Down.” A cresting beat threaded with a hallucinatory montage of vocals, hand clapping and plenty of “Boom Ba Boom Bah’s”–this “ear worm” single has always managed to lure me in. Tonight was no different.
On a cold winter night in Minneapolis, temps dipping into the so-not-preferred double digits– sometimes you just crave a powerful song to pump you up and get you moving. Kimbra delivered with what I would say is my favorite new track of hers, “On Top of the World.” Angsty, gritty and dripping with a heavy DIY electronic sound, we hear this songstress venture into the genre of hip-hop. The hook will get ya.
“I’m on top, I’m on top, I’m on top of the world. See me run, see me run, see me run with the girls.”
Kimbra’s music is constantly changing–jazz, pop, electronic funk, hip-hop. Her sophomore effort, “The Golden Echo,” was extremely experimental. From what I’ve heard so far, it seems that her pending album is just as eclectic, but more refined. I’m loving the R&B elements and heavy synths.
“Everybody Knows” is another standout new single you should check out. Soulful vocals, delicate xylophones and lifting pop synths–this song is a good introduction to her new material.
“Everybody knows ’bout what you do, everybody saw and sold the truth. I was young and gullible, but baby I grew. Now the whole world’s watching you…”