Album review: Kimbra - Vows

This major-label, vocally dextrous debut is intricate, varied and contemporary. So how come Vows misses the target?

The lass best known as the voice on Gotye’s recent smash-hit single Somebody That I Used To Know presents a debut album that’s nothing if not lavishly worked-on.

Layering electronics, mirrored vocal harmonies and harsh percussion over some middling pop melodies and pretty ballads, Vows is a more difficult listen than it should be.

It opens with Settle Down, lyrically embracing the idea of getting wed and having kids - turning the notion-du-jour of girl power, sexual liberation and man’s general uselessness on its head.

Her elastic, sweet, sometimes Bjork-esque vocal talents are set against an unfortunately crunchy, abrasive production that’s coldly indifferent to her heart-on-sleeve decalaration of commitment.

Elsewhere there’s sub-Caro Emerald knowing jazz (Good Intent), unplugged, slightly over-egged vocal workouts (Plain Gold Ring) and some interesting xylophone and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink samples sprinkled, well, all over the place. The sound of good ideas almost gelling.

3 stars