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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Clare Arm­strong

Pri­mal Heart Kim­bra Warner Bros Kim­bra could hardly have cho­sen a more ap­pro­pri­ate name for her third al­bum as here she at­tempts to dis­sect the tricky busi­ness of be­ing in love. The New Zealand singer is best known for her col­lab­o­ra­tion with Go­tye on the 2011 mega-hit Some­body That I Used to Know, but in the years since that duet her solo out­put has shown she’s one of the most in­no­va­tive and in­ter­est­ing voices in mod­ern pop. Across 12 tracks, Pri­mal Heart high­lights her ver­sa­til­ity as she veers wildly be­tween dance melodies, 80s bal­lads, sul­try R&B and ex­per­i­men­tal al­ter­na­tive pop. Her lyrics lend a po­etic air to the well-worn themes of love, re­la­tion­ships and ro­mance, while at ev­ery turn Kim­bra’s ex­tra­or­di­nary vocal abil­i­ties lend strength and emo­tional depth to her songs. Whether she’s half-yelling on the fre­net­i­cally paced Skrillex col­lab­o­ra­tion Top of the World or croon­ing softly on the pi­ano-led bal­lad Ver­sion of Me, her com­mand­ing voice al­ways cuts through. But it’s not all heart­break and in­tro­spec­tive mus­ings, with of­fer­ings such as the elec­tronic-in­fused Lightyears and soul­ful, Mo­town-in­flu­enced Past Love en­sur­ing there’s plenty of light to con­trast with the darker mo­ments. As with her pre­vi­ous re­leases, Kim­bra fre­quently em­ploys vocal loops and ef­fects to build an en­tire choir from her voice alone. Fi­nal track Real Life fea­tures barely any in­stru­ments at all. In­stead, her stripped-back, al­most ro­botic-sound­ing har­monies pro­vide the back­ing track to the ethe­real fi­nale of Pri­mal Heart. In the hands of another artist, an ec­cen­tric piece of work like this could have been a dis­as­ter, but Kim­bra has cor­ralled her cre­ative vi­sion into a re­mark­ably co­he­sive record.

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