By Daylon Bonner, Staff Writer
After a three-month delay, Kimbra has released her third studio album “Primal Heart.” This is her first album release in four years but nearly half of it was already released as singles. The first track was released in late September of last year.
Kimbra is probably best known for her work with John Legend, Janelle Monáe, and collaborating with Gotye on their successful single “Somebody That I Used to Know.” While it is doubtful that this album will make her a household name, it is still a welcome infusion of electro-pop with potential for some wider recognition.
It may be due to the musical aesthetic that is predominantly played on pop radio, but (to me) the production of this album is a welcome change of pace. Concerning subject matter, many of the songs do not differ too much from the songs you would hear from singers such as Carly Rae Jepsen, Sia, or Lorde. The difference is that you can hear the extra effort put into the production surrounding the lyrics. This is not a criticism of any of the aforementioned artists per se; however, the care put into the lyrics and production is more apparent on this collection of songs than on the albums and singles from them.
Much of this may also stem from the fact that Kimbra, in addition to singing and, at the least, co-writing all the songs, had hands in the overall production. Whether it be playing an instrument or mixing, she is a major component of the finished product allowing her voice to permeate what is presented.
One of the standout tracks is “Top of the World” produced by Skrillex. The song concerns her not being as well known to public as she figured she would be through collaborating with the aforementioned artists. The production is not too far from the repertoire for Skrillex but is still an interesting turn for Kimbra. Her vocal delivery made the song pop.
Truth be told, the vibe created from the combination of Skrillex’s production and Kimbra’s vocal delivery, make the lyrics somewhat inconsequential. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing as the ambience of it is solid enough to sustain the track. Also, the less than subtle hints of cockiness are great.
The highlight of this album is the song “Lightyears.” The production, handled by The Brinks, on the track is stellar. The lyrics themselves are not overly complex. They are mostly about the singer aspiring for a less ephemeral encounter. Given the psychedelic tone of it all, it may not necessarily be about another person.
The album does lose steam in its latter half though. Tracks nine, 10 and 11, entitled “Past Life,” “Right Direction” and “Version of Me,” while still produced decently, do not elicit the same level of enjoyment seen from the earlier tracks.
The final song on the album is the only track solely crafted by Kimbra herself. She experimented with a different version of minimalist production and structure to produce an interesting, albeit flawed conclusion to her album. The switching of the chorus structure to be the clenching lines of each verse is a nice change.
This is an album that created an interesting vibe and carries it for the duration. The short duration of the album is also appreciated, with it being only forty-five minutes long. Should someone wish to dissect each song lyric by lyric, more power to them; however, this album does not need to be overly analyzed to illicit enjoyment. “Primal Heart” gets a seven out of ten and a strong recommendation to listen. The album is available now.