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


“…and now the whole world’s watching you.”

“Everybody Knows” by Kimbra | I knew Kimbra would be staging a return, having gotten wind of her album announcement – Primal Heart drops next year, way too late for my parents to get me a copy while in Melbourne. But then I’ve been busy, so I haven’t really had a chance to listen to first single “Everybody Knows” until this weekend, when the music video dropped. This is the minimal Kimbra I didn’t know I wanted, I first thought, pretty much forgetting how she’s done this sound before – although, of course, this generation’s dance-y flourishes are there. I was entranced until I saw her do that face, that look of glee which I remember so well from the “Come Into My Head” video, and much later, when I watched her live – one of the best concerts I’ve seen, I’ll say, but that’s me being a fan. I missed you, Kimbra. Don’t stay out that long. [NB]

“Hot! Flash!”

“Sweet Relief” by Kimbra | We’re not posting this song fresh out – this was officially released a week ago, and was even performed live at least a month ago (or so today’s YouTube search tells me). I’m posting this today, however, because this sounds very much like a Thursday record – the song you put on as you look forward to that weekend thing you always hype up. As for me, I’ve been playing Kimbra semi-regularly in the past couple of years (since the release of The Golden Echo) that a new song from her just almost slips me by. But, you know, Thursday night feeling, and a touch of Prince even – perhaps a couple of touches, if you listen closely to the lyrics – for good measure. Get down. [NB]

earthings! 2014: My ten favorites of the year

earthings! 2014

Yep, another list of my ten favorite songs of the year. And it’s just that: my ten favorites of the year. While there is an attempt to weave what is clearly a very personal list into some narrative defining the past year, it will most likely not work as much as it should. That said, there were a lot of interesting songs in the past twelve months, and some of my favorite acts went back with some new bits, too. People went quiet; people went retro; people went organic. So there’s that. I don’t know about you, but this is my year in music, sorted in alphabetical order, although you’re likely to guess what I’m biased towards… that’s just the whole nature of it, yes? We’ll be on a two-week holiday break, and we’ll be back with new entries on 5 January. Hopefully. And now, the list. [NB]

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