The herky-jerky debut single "90s Music" name checks "MJ and Mariah/Nirvana and Aaliyah," to give you a sense of the musical touchstones of her youth, but the underlying sound of the album seems to come from an influential artist who actually emerged in the '70s: Prince. Listening to The Golden Echo, it's hard to discount the influence of the Minneapolis icon on the album. Funnily enough, it's his maligned Diamonds and Pearls '90s era that seems to have resonated with Kimbra for this project, but she is far more than a wide-eyed devotee recasting the sound in her own vision; she uses her impressively elastic voice to ride over the impressive musical arrangements and production, adding muscle to tracks like "Love In High Places" by wisely recruiting bassist Thundercat to pluck throbbing low-end frequencies.
While the tracks she reportedly completed with Thundercat's affiliate Flying Lotus and Dirty Projectors frontman Dave Longstreth are not included in the album, songs like the funk strut of "Everlovin' Ya" featuring Bilal and the infectious "Miracle" play like summer soundtracks, and their unapologetic immediacy can and should be enjoyed right now. (Warner)