When I first listened to New Zealand’s Kimbra, I wasn’t quite sure I liked it. Yes it was pop and yes her videos were aesthetically cool, but I didn’t quite get it. What was the big deal? Sure, at the short age of 21, she’s seen international success with her collabo with Gotye, won numerous awards in New Zealand and Australia and been listed as “One to watch” by Rolling Stone Magazine, but what really made her different? For some odd reason, I decided to investigate – by watching video after video on Youtube.
And I think I get it. On first glances Kimbra really reminded me of well, Katy Perry with her brunette locks, penchant for vintage style, and cutesy dance moves. Her music was also the kind of catchy foot-tapping pop that Perry is also famous for; however, that’s where the comparisons end. Take a deeper look and you’ll always find that there is more to this kiwi.
Unlike Perry, Kimbra’s lyrics are a tad deeper than a misbegotten hangover and a bit of sexual experimentation. Her debut album Vows explores that most generic of topics, love, but also more interestingly all the complicated twists that promises of love begin. Through songs like Cameo Lover and Settle Down, Kimbra explores commitment phobias and emotional detachment, all the while singing it with a smile, a flick of her hips and a characteristically retro growl. While her singles thus far all follow this theme, I think it’s worth exploring the other side of Vows for songs like Wandering Limbs. With its throbbing beat, dreamy piano solos, and poetic lyrics Wandering Limbs is a perfect example showcasing Kimbra, the artist.
Veering from jazz, to pop, to soul, Kimbra is a slippery artist to categorize. Obviously her musical influences are huge and the artist cites musicians like Bjork, Rufus Wainwright, and Prince as inspirations. It is the latter artist that seems to really inspire her as she is often quoted as admiring his genre (and gender) bending musical style saying, “[I have] a desire to write music that could push boundaries and be ‘pop’, but also challenging. Artists like Prince are perfect examples of musicians who have been able to find that balance. I am most influenced by music that touches me emotionally but also surprises me on a musical level.”
You can get touched by Kimbra when her US debut, Vows, drops in May with tour dates across America already scheduled.