The much-anticipated album release by modern soul queen Kimbra served as the ultimate throwback for ’90s pop nostalgia.
“The Golden Echo” project initially shocked fans on May 7 as Kimbra revealed her intentions to change her recognizably jazzy R&B sound into an experimental mix of funk and electropop through her release of the single “’90s Music.”
This changeover began a surge of backlash as many fans begged her via social media to return to her roots by creating another soulful album such as her debut, “Vows;” however, Kimbra remained determined to challenge herself as she later addressed her audience.
“Even if there is a sense of expectation around this album, I kind of (see) that as a positive as well — a good challenge to make a statement,” Kimbra said during an interview with Flavorwire in August.
And “make a statement” she did.
“The Golden Echo” acts as a vessel of ’90s pop influences and Kimbra’s own unmistakable flair. Each track seems to have been a once-famous hit which she molded into a piece of her own, allowing the album to feel instantly recognizable even after its first listen.
Although the leading track, “Teen Heat,” clearly resonates as a tribute to *NSYNC’s Y2K hit “Bye Bye Bye” throughout its chorus, the entirety of the song is a notably explosive and playful sound all Kimbra fans may recognize.
What I suspect to be her most successful single is “Miracle,” which was also released as a music video along with “The Golden Echo.” The dancey tune paired with Kimbra’s enthusiastic harmonies is reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s upbeat rhythms and catchy lyrics. Who better to reference than the King of Pop?
Although this new energy is a drastic change from her premier album, Kimbra remains a sophisticated and talented songwriter.
Those who still long for Kimbra’s soulful sound, however, will find solace in “Love in High Places” and “Nobody But You,” which are placed strategically near the end of her album. Both share the more emotionally powered romanticism of “Vows” while also matching the conventional pop choruses featured throughout the rest of “The Golden Echo.”
For music consumers, it is often difficult to detach from an artist’s standard while anticipating upcoming releases; however, in order to encourage the production of increasingly original music, artists must be allowed to experiment with their style. And though Kimbra’s new style is not what was expected, it is certainly enjoyable.
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