New Zealand-born, self proclaimed pop star Kimbra has done at lot to earn that title. Since emerging into public consciousness in 2011, she has maintained a constant creative evolution, never being afraid to move on in a new sonic direction. Known most notably for her collaboration with Gotye, Kimbra’s music has always been heard, but maybe not always seen, by UK listeners. Five years after her last full-length release Primal Heart, she has returned with an album that, lyrically at least, cuts closer to the bone than ever before.
save me begins the record, sounding like a distorted and warped rendition of a Bond theme. What follows is a brooding ballad, indicative of the album’s dark, but vulnerable album cover. Single replay! changes things up instantly, the tribal drum pattern and chirpy refrain hitting hard and pulling the listener to attention. the way we were has a satisfying groove, remaining low-key but taking on a pop-centric rhythm with bouncing drums and handclaps. The melodies and bass sway in and out of each other, until the chorus hits, bringing everything together into a catchy and tasteful conclusion.
new habit’s plonky production, along with the choppy vocal edits, give it a drum and bass inflection, but breaks into more poppier ground with the chorus’s. Brass stabs give them a grandiose feel, and lift the dark production. Erick the Architect becomes the first of four features on GTL, his final verse stint being simple but affective, and rhythmically infectious. It’s Kimbra’s own verses on this track, however, that shine, as she jumps across the beat as though she has always been a rapper. Cowbell and guitar licks kick off la type, the song being one of the highlights of the album, while Ryan Lott’s feature on foolish thinking brings the tempo down but raises the roof.
A Reckoning shows Kimbra at her most adaptive and creative, but also at her most concise. Instrumentally, the sounds gel with ease, each influence filtered in with precision and care. Even the features have been chosen perfectly, to a degree, and all sit wonderfully in the song they have been invited on to. It’s a master of music at their best. Kimbra shows no signs on this that she’s slowing down.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.