It is not so often that I discover artists I instantly fall in love with. But then came Kimbra--her infectious songs, her echoed harmonies, her covetable head of dark curls. Take this, the music video for "Settle Down" and my first introduction to her addictive aesthetics and style: unsettling young girls play at 50s housewives, wide watery eyes and brushed blonde hair, then dance, synchronized in dreamy, innocent little girl dresses next to Kimbra in front of shelves of porcelain dolls with chlorine colored eyes and ash charred faces set aflame. A throughly modern pastiche of glossy vintage glamour, pretty to look at on the surface but suggestive too, of something not quite right beneath.
The song itself is just the right note of that: a dark playfulness totters on the edge of the gets-stuck-in-your-head melodies, seductive with its ever so slightly off minor tones, the call and chant background, Kimbra's voice: almost-soul almost-jazz almost-pop almost-Bjork and completely brilliant. Distinctively now but so charmingly reverent of the past.
And then there is "Good Intent," when Kimbra creates a song that is pure atmosphere and sultry sizzle and also pop perfection:
It would probably be a little embarrassing to confess how often I've played this song since I discovered it. It's smoke hazed night halls, 4 am o'clocks, crisp suits and shadowed hats, velvet and gloved finger tips. Of course, Kimbra gets the music video just right. A false composure, understated eroticism, a jerky and dangerous dance. This is the violence and sex charged atmosphere of Chicago 1920s (like the musical), the heightened tension and drama of the tango, cobblestoned streets with fatal secrets tucked in a black satin bra. Anything might go but not without consequence and the unwelcome thrill ofdiscovery.