Echoing the experimental nature of recent collaborator Gotye, whose number one single "Somebody That I Used to Know" she stole the show on, New Zealand songstress Kimbra's debut album, Vows, is a schizophrenic affair that is almost impossible to pigeonhole. Effortlessly flitting from bubblegum pop starlet on the playful old-skool beats and '60s doo wop vocals of "Cameo Lover" to avant-garde banshee on the melancholic music box-inspired closer, "The Build Up," Kimbra's chameleon-like tendencies ensure that predictability is certainly never an issue on any one of its 12 genre-hopping tracks. Occasionally, this "cover all bases" approach lacks focus, but for the most part, Kimbra's invention is a marvel to behold, as her enchanting and swooping jazz-pop tones glide across a veritable feast of sounds, from the hypnotic double basslines and '30s show tune harmonies of "Good Intent"; to the plinky piano hooks and rhythmic R&B grooves of opener "Settle Down"; while a beautifully gothic take on "Plain Gold Ring" is one of the rare instances of a Nina Simone cover matching the original. It will be interesting to see if she decides to pursue a more streamlined direction in the future, but by threading its widely eclectic range of influences together in such an impressively cohesive manner, Vows suggests she might never need to.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien