Kimbra's The Golden Echo

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 09:24 19/08/2014

The other week I wrote about The Listener's billing of Kimbra as "the next Lorde". The piece in The Listener was a well-written article - but that tagline stuck out like a dog's balls. It was also unfair. Incorrect. Stupid.

The Listener's decision to lead the story in that way undermined the work of the writer who had chased down a good story, created a strong portrait of a workaholic hopeful pop star. The story really didn't have anything in common with the making of Lorde. 

I'd written previously about Kimbra - she is not the enemy. She is in fact very talented. That's pretty clear when you listen to almost anything she's created - even if you don't like it. You can hear that she can do it - she can sing. She can play. And now she has a new album; the big second album...the difficult second album.Kimbra

The Golden Echo is Kimbra's new album and it's almost wonderful. But unfortunately it's just far too busy - so much so that it's silly. Pop music doesn't have to make sense but you just can't get a purchase here.

Kimbra's record, track by track, sounds kinda wonderful, lush, huge, rich - big. But it's far too big and far too bright actually. These songs ache because they're too full, set to burst at any second. Each track filled with more than an album's worth of ideas. That should be impressive, in the end it's just exasperating.

That Listener story painted a picture of Kimbra as someone very nearly bouncing off the walls, running - non-stop - at a dizzying clip. The music on The Golden Echo is trying to be far too many things and at no point - ever - does it start to sound like Kimbra. Worse than that, at no point ever does it stop. This music is head-scratchingly busy. And it's almost as if we've opened the door on the songs midway through. These are no butterflies pinned to the wall in display cases. These songs were just forever far too quick for the ether rag.

The list of collaborators and session players is impressive - some of the grooves and feels, wow! But it's to the album's detriment. It's almost impossible for the listener to keep up. And nothing here has the chance to mean anything- nothing sinks in. It's as if every track is there in its leotard, nervous, wringing, lit, desperately whispering to itself over and over that "it's show-time!" Readying jazz-hands, strutty, strutty, and work. Work!

Unfortunately the flavours of The Golden Echo are whizzed into a blur. Unfortunately there's almost no breathing space. And you can't ever quite believe that Kimbra means any of this. It's no artistic statement in the end, beyond: look what I can do! And make me a star!

Each song seems to be saying - under its breath the whole time - "Please. Please. Please!"

There will be worse albums this year. Obviously. But I'm not sure there will be many as stuffed and silly, as frustrating and exhausting.

Here's my review of The Golden Echo.

Have you heard it? What do you think? Is Kimbra a pop genius - or someone still in search of her own voice? Is The Golden Echo a work of genius? Or just far too many ideas mashed together with no wiggle-room, no breathing space? 

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