Kimbra is perhaps best known for her feature on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.” But on her newest album, Primal Heart, the New Zealand artist shows off her versatility.
The album’s lead single, “Everybody Knows,” relies little on the instrumental. Her voice is soft, but there’s a break of percussion that gives her notes some blood.
Her second single, “Human,” is almost reminiscent of those of Tove Lo and Lorde. Unlike “Everybody Knows,” bass beats are consistent but not enough to overpower the singer. With Kimbra’s unmistakable breathiness, the vibe is dreamlike but still manages to ground you.
The music video to “Human” is black=and-white, and Kimbra — with her heavy bangs and long, swishing hair — walks alongside a mirror where her reflection doesn’t quite keep up with her real form.
“I got a heart that’s primal/ ‘Cause yeah, I need your love for my survival/ Life’s got me on trial/ I confess I’ve been messed up in denial,” she passionately claims.
“Like They Do On the TV” divulges Kimbra’s deeper tones while keeping to her signature airy voice. Strong vibes of ’80’s pop are evident, but the music video is part-animation and rather bleak as a group of people are seen hauling televisions of some time past.
“‘Cause we are stronger now than our brothers/ Catch your head, I’m calling out, I’m dead/ Faint light flickering in the distance/ New world thickening,” Kimbra beckons.
In “Top of the World,” Kimbra is almost rapping. Although the message is strong, the repetition nearly begs a yawn. The bass is consistent again, but background voices — almost childlike — cocoon around her desperate one, lending it a rather eerie but overconfident persona.
“When I’m on top, I’m on top, I’m on top of the world/ See me run, see me run, see me run with the girls/ I’m on top, I’m on top, I’m on top of the world/ Need a break, then I’ll take to the top of the world,” she chants amid a circle of stone pillars.
“Version of Me” also falls short. The singer gives us beautiful lyrics and a strong range of her vocals. Alas, the song reads better as a poem than lyrics.
“‘Cause I’m damned if I do/ And I’m damned if I don’t/ Every time I swear I will/ You say that I won’t/ But there’s a better version of me/ Stay for the person I’ll be.”
Kimbra is one of those artists who doesn’t stick to one genre. While her voice remains feathery, her songs center on themes of self-empowerment and imperfection. But sometimes, it seems that her themes are stronger than her notes.