Review: Primal Heart by Kimbra

Primal Heart by KimbraThere is a contradiction running across Primal Heart, the third full-length from Kimbra. On one hand, I did expect the album to sound a little more obscure: she’s been mining the depths of funk, soul and jazz on one hand, and fringe-y elements of electronic music on the other, from the release of The Golden Echo to this point. If anyone could merge the two, it’s her. And she does, but then, the result isn’t exactly what I expected. It’s both (slightly) difficult and also more mainstream; it’s both obscure and obvious. At some points you easily get what she’s going for and how she’s spinning it; at others you’re bathed in weirdness that, while not as far out as the previous album’s “90s Music”, takes a while to figure out. And that’s an interesting stumbling block for Primal Heart. It sounds more accessible for some reason, but it isn’t. The clear influences mean Kimbra is somewhat forced to be more reverential rather than to innovate – no bursts of joy, or whimsy, or craftiness – which makes this album a bit disappointing. But then, it’s a record that rewards multiple listens. With all the contradictions running across it, you’ll need some time to untangle everything, if you ever get around to doing so. [NB]3/5

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