Since Kimbra’s breakout appearance alongside Gotye on the hit single ‘Somebody that I use to know’, there has been a continuous search within her work to locate a complete sound.
Her previous LP ‘The Golden Echo’, was uneven, with a stark contrast in quality between the front end and the concluding moments. No longer suffering from being overlong, ‘Primal Heart’ sounds more comfortable within the accessible 44-minute run time. This does not however indicate that Kimbra has reverted towards more comprehensible pop sounds, as her work upon this album is sonically ethereal.
Opening with ‘The Good War’ with pulsating bass, juxtaposed with soft harmonious vocals, “Primal Hearts’” introduction makes one thing clear, Kimbra has sought elevation. This is not only existent within the production, but lyrically there is a focus on rebirth and growth. Rather than this notion being limited towards artistic evolution, Kimbra takes time to explore previous relationships with others, be them negative or past mistakes that are to be built upon to strengthen herself. Perhaps the standout track ‘Recovery’ is the best example of this, with Kimbra’s voice seemingly bouncing alongside the trap-like percussion.
Here lies the strength of ‘Primal Heart’, being Kimbra’s talent for effortlessly encompassing several popular trends within contemporary sounds and fitting them together within her own work, while not sliding into pastiche or parody. Tracks such as ‘Top of the World’ and ‘Lightyears’ deliver heavy electronic moments, while remaining closely within the pop genre. These moments of outside influence do deliver the album with a unique sound, however, the inevitability of an uneven album arise because of this. Some of the slower tracks do suffer, as they do not deliver the experimental art tones of the more interesting ones, coming across as flat or simply as unfinished ideas.
The worst offender would be the album’s final track, ‘Real Life’, which simply has no sense of progression of finality, providing ‘Primal Hearts’ with a somewhat limp finish. Nevertheless, Kimbra’s achievements upon this LP outperform any shortcomings, with the fusion of art and accessibility creating a fascinating modern pop record.
‘Primal Hearts’ is out now via Warner Bros