The phrase "golden echo" conjures all sorts of ideas. A booming, all-encompassing sound that bathes everything in warmth; a grand cacophony of reverberations; colourful synaesthesia; the way something can sound even better when you hear it a second time. It makes you think of space, fairy tales, fables, and a fantasy world limited only by imagination.
Kimbra's second album equally conjures all of that. It's bold, dynamic, boundary-pushing, incredibly well produced, and yet not as outlandishly bonkers as you might've expected.
It's still very much a pop album, except unlike anything else you've heard, and it's a lot of fun.
The Golden Echo genre-hops like a jukebox, ranging from joyful 70s disco on Miracle, to chain-gang infused hip-hop on Goldmine, 80s electro-ballad Teen Heat, to dark and snappy funk that would make Prince proud on Madhouse and, of course, the brilliant nostalgia of early single 90s Music.
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Then there's piano ballad As You Are with string arrangements by superstar composer Van Dyke Parks, which reminds us why she was often compared to Nina Simone in her early days. It's a stunner with a slightly futuristic edge to its pain and vulnerability.
Working with producer Rich Costey (Interpol, Muse), she's created a sound palette that surprises and delights, but what is important is that they've left her voice to the fore as often as they've warped, layered, and modulated it. And though she remains a vocal chameleon (sometimes you wonder if you're listening to the same singer), there's pleasingly little in the way of vocal acrobatics.
It's also worth noting that while there are many guest artists involved in the 12 tracks (including Muse's Matt Bellamy, bassist Thundercat, rapper Flying Lotus, Dirty Projector's Dave Longstreth, Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Bilal, and mega-star John Legend) the album still sounds definitively like Kimbra.
Bold, imaginative, fun.