The sleeper hit Somebody That I Used to Know has already turned its maker, Belgian singer Gotye, into a new version of Sting for people who never liked the old version. It now seems poised to turn his duet partner, New Zealand singer Kimbra Johnson, into a new version of Björk for people who miss the gawky, early 90s, fresh-from-the-Sugarcubes version. Kimbras official debut, Vows, is snappy and smart, an often-great pop album with a knack for sounding more exotic than it is. It shoehorns in a little bit of everything: Nancy Sinatra pop, show tunes, funk, kittenish light jazz and a respectable Nina Simone cover (Plain Gold Ring, done as somberly as the chipper Kimbra can manage).
Its a typically omnivorous first album that, in its fallow moments can seem scattered.
Vows kicks off with Settle Down, in which the singer expresses to someone (A boyfriend? A crush?) her desire to get married and have babies. Like, right now. Wont you raise a child with me? trills Kimbra over a bed of bop-bops and hand claps, adding, perhaps necessarily, Theres no need to run. On paper, it sounds a little desperate. In reality, its also desperate, but charming, too, and it sets the tone early: Kimbra isnt afraid to sound weird.