Release Date: Aug 19, 2014
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Review Summary: Kimbra strikes art-pop gold on her second album.As it bounces off a surface, an echo distorts a sound in order to astonish the listener. Even though this phenomenon can be scientifically explained, there's a dash of magic in an echo, a sense of wonder when you hear something eerily familiar yet quite uncanny. Kimbra Johnson ties this concept in with the music on her second album.
After the global success of "Somebody That I Used to Know," her Grammy-winning duet with Gotye, Kimbra could have worked with anyone; on The Golden Echo, it feels like she worked with almost everyone. Along with producer Rich Costey, her collaborators include members of the Mars Volta, Muse, Foster the People, and Silverchair, as well as John Legend and Bilal. Having so many guests with so many different backgrounds could have resulted in a scattered mess, or pushed Kimbra out of the spotlight, but her sense of adventure puts her signature on even the most kaleidoscopic moments.
Despite being prominently featured on one of the most omnipresent and inescapable singles of this decade so far in Gotye's "Somebody I Used To Know," the profile of New Zealand singer/songwriter Kimbra is comparatively low. That's a shame, because her eclectic and experimental approach to music blending pop, R&B and electronica elements is an intellectually rewarding experience. Her 2012 debut, Vows, highlighted Kimbra's penchant for audacious genre dipping.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Prior to 2012, the name Kimbra would've meant very little to the mainstream listener outside of New Zealand and Australia despite her already having a pretty solid debut album to her name. New Zealand born and Aussie based, she was the darling of the indie pop scene in her native countries. Things quickly changed, however, when fellow Aussie resident Gotye asked her to join him on a little ditty known as 'Somebody That I Used To Know'.
New Zealander Kimbra Johnson is a surreal pop juxtapositionist—a mercurial oddball influenced equally by soul singer Minnie Ripperton and prog-metal extremists Meshuggah. Her second LP, The Golden Echo (which follows her breakout guest spot on Gotye’s elastic breakup ballad “Somebody That I Used to Know”) showcases the madness of her restlessly creative brain. From frizzy, Prince-aping funk to chirpy roller-disco to math-rock dissonance, no style or texture is off-limits—it’s the album’s biggest charm and also its unavoidable drawback: Kimbra spends so much time playing dress-up, it’s often hard to tell what she really looks like.
Love it or hate it — it’s one of those — Gotye’s mega-hit “Somebody That I Used To Know” dodged a lawsuit from The Police’s estate thanks in part to Kimbra’s striking guest verse. Throughout the single’s healthy chart tenure, the New Zealand singer supplied an elastic, modern counterweight to Gotye’s retro-familiar delivery. She captured a pair of Grammy wins with the song, all while inviting radio listeners into her own record, 2011’s Vows, a swinging, soulful hour of cabaret jazz damp with pop shine.
There is a catch 22 that happens when your main claim to fame in the music industry is as a guest vocalist in a duet. Yes, you get quite a lot of exposure and mainstream music listeners directed to your solo music had you not been that featured artist. On the other hand, the success you possess is usually predicated on the talents of someone else. It’s pretty safe to say that Kimbra stole the show on the magnificent “Somebody That I Used to Know” and had her presence not been on that track, it would have crumbled as a typical whiny love song of heartbreak and longing.
Following a boost in visibility from Gotye's mega-hit "Somebody That I Used to Know", Kimbra's L. A. -recorded second album The Golden Echo is her wager for staying power, but too often it overstays its welcome.
In a year in which many big-ticket records have stressed brevity and focus, there's something to be said for New Zealand pop iconoclast Kimbra's "The Golden Echo." Best known in America for her vocals on the smash "Somebody That I Used to Know," the magnetic multi-instrumentalist on her second solo album moves through a strange and often surprising set of tones and approaches. A virtual layer cake of futuristic funk pop, contemporary R&B and maximalist Top 40 music slathered with the purple icing of Prince, "The Golden Echo" swaps styles with gleeful — and at times reckless — abandon, an apt pop offering for this pattern-on-pattern cultural moment. This is a modal window.
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH Ever since Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” rose to ubiquity in 2012 and left an indelible mark on the zeitgeist of a young decade, his collaborator, Kimbra, has been tied to the success of that song. Indeed, for the uninitiated (read: the Northern Hemisphere), the Kiwi chanteuse and “Somebody That I Used to Know” are inextricable. Her performance on the track is stellar—simultaneously sweet, shamed, and seething—but it was hardly all she had to offer.