Kimbra
Primal Heart


4.5
superb

Review

by Sawyer G. USER (9 Reviews)
April 20th, 2018 | 184 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The sounds of people you used to know become the sounds of somebody you ought to know.

The period between The Golden Echo and Primal Heart was certainly a tumultuous time to be a Kimbra, or anybody aware of their surroundings for that matter. The world of music was radically shaped anew with great losses, and great achievements, on no uncertain terms demonstrating that while influence may live forever, the people themselves do not. While the spiritual blow Kimbra suffered due to some of her most significant influences passing is apparent on here, it is also clear that she isn't about to mope or rest on her laurels. Rather, Primal Heart is a soundtrack to Kimbra's new artistic awakening, a statement that yearns to make the best out of her influences and establish the woman herself as a force to be reckoned with.

If Vows was an idiosyncratic record, everything about Primal Heart - from the darker, more driving instrumentals to the determined, aspiring lyrics and down to its amalgam album cover - invokes the theme of Kimbra wanting to take all of her quirky sounds and make them into one unique characteristic. While the lyrics mirror the troubled world that developed prior to the release of the album, there is a distinct double entendre in songs like the feathery ballad "Version of Me", implying Kimbra's rediscovery of herself as an artist. Lyrics like "If there's a better version of me/Would you stay for the person I'll be?" making sense in a love song, but also beckoning the listener to stick along for the bigger ride, as it has only just begun.

The range of styles is about as impressive as the range of vocals Primal Heart employs, going seamlessly from anthemic indie pop of "The Good War" to somber quiet storm for "Everybody Knows", and the from quirky sonic melodies in "Human" to sparse, distorted instrumentation for the closer "Real Life". Even though Kimbra's distinct taste from her previous albums is present, by virtue of being permeated by an obscurely dark edge that gives the songs their character, even the peppiest track "Lightyears" would have felt like an outlier on any of her previous work. On here Kimbra acts almost like a vessel for the wide scope of producers and songwriters she teamed up with, even delving into hip-hop on the most outlandish track "Top of the World", letting her distinct stamp of light, bouncy R&B vocals act as the anchor for the style.

An admirably self-conscious record, while discreetly dabbling in topics like politics, Primal Heart makes no pretensions about trying to make sense of the world and never beats you over the head with opinions. Kimbra's intent is only to mirror what she's observing, the dreamy shades of "Like They Do on the TV" only vaguely referencing politics but serving more as a self-referential acknowledgment of the need for abandoning nostalgia. The lyrics drip heavily with Kimbra's determination to express new visions, presenting ideas of being stronger than previous generations. Juxtaposing the themes, the distinctly minimalist nuances highlight all of the murky aspects of the production and gives them clear definition, making the album have all the defined shades of pop while retaining all the moodiness of indie. The inaugural Kimbra-helmed production breathes dark pop, cementing the theme of her steadfast willingness to take her past and contemporary influences - from gospel music to synth pop - and use them to make herself become an influence.

Definitely an album that promises a lot and tries its hardest to earn the listener's trust, Primal Heart is an album of careful yet ambitious craft, with every track it is confident in its statement and never devolves into pleading. Anchoring itself into Kimbra's distinct vocals and R&B sensibilities, it dares to have fun, to be sad, and to be imposing, the themes of ambition making it an eclectic but also a very comprehensible album. While the minimalism may not appeal to ones looking for sprawling pop production, the record is certainly an entertaining one for the casual listener, a fresh one for the critical ear and a fascinating one for the Kimbra fan. If there were any suspicions of Kimbra's originality, Primal Heart sheds any signs of aping, becoming the point in time where Kimbra's music forms from the sounds of people you used to know to the sounds of somebody you ought to know.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Baronessa
April 19th 2018


55 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"Yas, slay queen", as they say.

Favourite tracks: "The Good War", "Everybody Knows", "Like They Do on the TV", "Recovery", "Human", "Lightyears", "Past Love"

Least favourite tracks: Uhh, I guess if I had to choose, "Black Sky"

FreddieDelaney31
April 19th 2018


3858 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Black Sky is one of my faves damn

Digging: Keaton Henson - Dear...

Baronessa
April 19th 2018


55 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ideally I wouldn't take one track off, to be honest.

literallyzach
April 19th 2018


488 Comments


did not like top of the world at all, kinda hesitant to check this out. is the rest of the album like that?

Digging: Nariaki Obukuro - Bunriha no Natsu

Baronessa
April 19th 2018


55 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

No, it's more like "Human" and "Everybody Knows" by and large.

brainmelter
April 19th 2018


5389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yaaaaaaaas

Digging: Basalte - Vertige

Gyromania
April 19th 2018


24686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Would I dig this if I thought her last album was average?

FreddieDelaney31
April 19th 2018


3858 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Probably not tbh

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2018


31009 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

just heard her play a bunch of it live and omg

newbatthis
April 20th 2018


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fucking blown. I fell in love with her with Vows but unfortunately while TGE had some good tracks it never grabbed me. This though is just perfect.



And I agree with the others saying a shorter and more concise album beats one long for the sake of it any day. One of the issues I had with TGE.

kmagnum1x
April 20th 2018


286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love Kimbra because she's like Banks but without the weird lisp

Lucid
April 20th 2018


9476 Comments


bops for days. strong 3.5 but might bump soon

top of the world is the only miss for me zach

polyrhythm
April 20th 2018


1858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh sweet this dropped

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Singularity

Faraudo
April 20th 2018


1958 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of the best pop albums of the decade tbh.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Singularity

Lucid
April 20th 2018


9476 Comments


only thing i don't like about her is that she sang on "somebody that i used to know" (my least favorite song of the decade)

polyrhythm
April 20th 2018


1858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nah that song rules

Faraudo
April 20th 2018


1958 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Somebody That I Used To Know is a great song man. Other than that I agree with you, everything she does is fucking gold.

pypypymble
April 20th 2018


124 Comments


does this have anything like uh come into my head or maybe goldmine

Faraudo
April 20th 2018


1958 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Maybe half of the tracks resemble those songs you mention.

pypypymble
April 20th 2018


124 Comments


ok, now i'm emotionally invested



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