On of the difficulties with qualifying new artists is the difference in perception between the listening public and the artist themselves, in terms of what are the best qualities of their music. Hailing from Illinois, Kiiara displays this dichotomy perfectly on her debut EP, low kii savage. Gold, her smash hit of a debut single split the difference between Scandinavian electropop and Atlanta trap, creating an electrifying mix, and this EP attempts to follow both of those muses, to sometimes confused effect.
Gold was effective because, in spite of its sheer clinical minimalism, it sounded totally effortless, and Kiiara exuded a charismatic swagger, along with a gift for melodicism. The sliced up vocals of the chorus could have come from a CHVRCHES track, whilst the jittering hi-hats sounded like something from a Metro Boomin production, and the track’s inclusion as the easy standout on this EP only cements its effectiveness.
The new tracks tend to lean away from the perfect mix of Gold, and towards more specific sounds. Feels resembles a blissed-out trap song, and is one of the stronger tracks, but Kiiara’s attempts at Future-styled narcotic misery – “all this xans in my body, I say f**k it keep on drowning” – come across as inauthentic, and her more vulnerable vocal performance doesn’t serve the track as well as Gold’s confidence. Tennessee is easily the weakest track on the EP, co-opting bland EDM tropes into a tale of decadence, and it abandons Kiiara’s uniqueness, instead aiming for boring radio-dance music.
Intention and Say Anymore are better, but somewhat forgettable, with the former coming across as an over-produced Gold rehash, and the latter’s house synth blips never quite melding with the vocal melody. Hang up tha Phone however, is a standout. A sensual come-on, the track leaves space for emotion besides defiance, and whilst Kiiara still sounds demanding and strong, she also sounds like she feels, which ends the largely vapid EP on a more interesting note.
Kiiara currently exists at somewhat of a crossroads. Her hugely successful debut single succeeded due to it’s catchy sliced-up chorus, yet she seems more interested in exploring the Atlanta side of her sound. Unfortunately, she is more successful when she focuses on her emotions, as opposed to a club lifestyle, and one can only hope this is the muse she chooses to follow in the future.