Krisis’s 2010 Album of the Year:
Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart
The maturation from Sara Bareilles’ major label debut to Kaleidoscope Heart is nothing short of astounding.
Her prior LP, Little Voice, was a pleasant album with a few killer singles and one too many samey songs with titular metaphors. It was memorable more for its parts than its whole. “Love Song” sounded understandably tacked-on, because it was – the label sent Bareilles back to the drawing board to pen a big single.
Kaleidoscope Heart dumps trite tunes and interminable balladeering in favor of an entire disc of “Love Song” caliber songwriting. The album runs at least five singles deep, a la Kelly Clarkson’s explosive Breakaway, and as a whole it lays waste to every other pop album dropped in 2010.
Take note, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, T-Swift, and other aspiring pop songstresses … Ms. Bareilles has got your number.
Songs stride from piano-girl pop (“Uncharted” and “Say You’re Sorry”) to wailing American Idol-worthy ballads (“Hold My Heart” and “Machine Gun”) with stops in between for rolling bluesy licks (“Gonna Get Over You”), folky 70s AM radio ballads (“Basket Case”), and an Imogen Heap style vocoder title track.
Almost of those songs stand up to the killer lead single “King of Anything,” which should be ruled an illegal stimulant due to its obscenely catchy handclap-drive chorus. Its opening call and response piano/vocal duet surely owes to Bareilles’ show choir club experience – it seems designed especially for a Glee club cover.
Throughout the album, mature lyrics avoid any hint of girlish triteness and still contain the snappish bite of angst that fueled the best tunes on her debut. More impressively, the sonic palette of the disc manages to differentiate each tune without becoming gimmicky. That allows for great tracking, dropping slower songs at all the right points on the album.
Sara Bareilles has created an incredibly confident LP rife with solid turns of songwriting and sometimes stunning vocal chops. Kaleidoscope Heart is a follow-up record that requires no caveats to enjoy – it’s simply great.
Kaleidoscope Heart is just $7.98 on Amazon, and worth every penny. It’s my most highly-endorsed LP of 2010. Check back tomorrow for my full list of 2010’s recommended releases.