“Everyday be listening to 90s music,” Kimbra sings in “90s Music” the first single from her second album The Golden Echo. Haha, I remember the 90s. SAME. What’s that mean, exactly, in case you’d forgotten? “MJ and Mariah, Nirvana and Aaliyah, R Kelly and Mary Blige, TLC and Left Eye,” she explains in a pandering, referential catalogue, as if summoning those acts’ ghosts, literally in some cases, might imbue this track with some of their magic. You know what all those musicians had in common thought? Great songs. Kimbra did too on her superlative 2011 debut Vows, with heartfelt, lavishly arranged jazzy pop songs like “Cameo Lover” and “Settle Down.” You can hear the real song this could’ve been struggling to break free of the clatter in the chorus, but for the most part this sounds like someone kicked M.I.A.’s laptop down a flight of stairs with the trash folder open.
Maybe that’s the point?
“90s Music” embraces so many things I like to explore musically,” Kimbra said in a release. “I am always attracted to the meeting place of light and dark, sweet and sour – the juxtaposition of angular sounds and head-crushing distorted elements sitting alongside a breathy bubblegum vocal. Instead of making the track a throwback musically, I wanted it to feel like a nod to the past from a futurist perspective.”