Sunday, August 26, 2012

#36: Kimbra - Vows (2011)

Kimbra is best known in the US as the female vocalist in Gotye’s track “Somebody That I Used To Know”. However, I hope more people give her a chance, because she’s incredibly talented. She’s got a hell of a voice, she knows what she’s doing musically, she’s young, she’s attractive, and honestly I don’t know if she has a ceiling. Her biggest Achilles heel for success in the states is just how good her music is. Pop music anymore is semi-enjoyable, watered down garbage. Some of Kimbra’s music is just too complex for pop radio, but then again – that’s a good thing.

Settle Down
My favorite Kimbra track thus far. While some of the album can tend to be on the over-produced side, this song does wonders with the production. Harmonies and counter melodies are introduced and reintroduced at completely different times in order to add a different component to the music, yet it still has a sense of familiarity. The main riff has a very odd rhythm to it, which adds almost a foreign element while still keeping it’s pop sensibilities. The video is pretty nifty too.

Cameo Lover
It’s very danceable track, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s not full of rich qualities. The harmonies throughout the track are what really do it for me – that and the pre-chorus.  The chorus features horns, strings, big thwaps on the snare, piano, and an ever increasingly catchy, pop hook. What I really like about Kimbra is that even on her most poppy tracks, she still has plenty of ideas in each song. For instance, this song could probably be cut up into six or seven parts, yet they all flow together seamlessly.

Good Intent
I lied. This is my favorite track of hers. It’s got this ‘Mad Men’ type of 50’s feel to it. I still really have no idea what’s she’s saying on this track – I just get caught up in the music and the chorus is just so good. The chorus features a fairly repetitive melody, but due to other vocals joining in, interesting lyrics such as “the pennies are cascading down your wishing well”, and cleverly placed harmonies – it stays memorizing all the way through. The simple, yet effective bass line just feeds the song into your ears. The whole song just has so much character.

All in all, it’s a good album that’s filled with very good songs. Its only downfall is the overproduction of some of its numbers. What’s most impressive about Kimbra is how much and how often she reinvents her songs. If you search for live performances of her on YouTube you’ll see different arrangements of many of the songs listed here. However, it’s her session at ‘SingSing Studios’ that takes the cake. I’d love to hear this album again where all of the songs are rerecorded in that vein. It’s not to say that I prefer that session over this album, it’s just a testament to how talented Kimbra is, and hopefully how good she will become.

Tomorrow's album: Ella Fitzgerald's Sings the Gershwin Songbook.

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