Saturday, April 30, 2016

Low Kii Savage | Kiiara

Let's go back in time roughly six months together, shall we? I was enjoying a track embedded in a forum post from SoundCloud. Titled "Gold," it was a minimalist, yet entrancing, club tune fueled on a chopped vocal sample. Its artist, a faceless newcomer named Kiiara, was no more than a hardware store clerk at the time of its release. I clicked away and promised myself to keep an eye on her.

After what felt like the blink of an eye but ended up being half a year, I went searching for the song again. Today, it is certified platinum in Australia and New Zealand, boasts over 12 million streams on SoundCloud alone, and is slated to be sent to mainstream radio here in the States in May. Kiiara, meanwhile, has an Atlantic Records co-signature and a major-label extended play release, Low Kii Savage. They grow up so fast, don't they?

"Gold" was the track to break through for good reason. What makes it great is its simplicity; she has transformed the drum machine reliance of Lorde and FKA twigs into a confident, club-ready tune with a chorus that begs to be sang alongside -- even though the vocal sampling makes it nearly impossible. It shines so bright, in fact, that the remaining five tracks on this extended play come up short in comparison, seeming to try to recreate the magic of her magnum opus. This is not to say that it's an unappealing release; just not as charismatic as hoped.

If tracks like "Intention" and "Tennessee" teach us anything about Kiiara, it's that her production, not so much she herself, is essential to her tracks' success; it's only on "Say Anymore" that her voice and production find a balance in importance. The problem with that is a resulting facelessness; at least from what can be heard on these six tracks, her voice doesn't resonate with any striking idiosyncrasies and her lyrics are arguably the least important factor of her artistry. But for an artist who seems to vie for the title of an enigmatic club dweller than anything else, it's a format that might just work for her.

Low Kii Savage is available now under Atlantic Records.

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