Okay, so maybe it wasn’t fair that I was surfing the web the first time I listened to the debut album from Kina. But, I was also checking out some pretty boring sites. And, let me tell you, the Chamber of Commerce of Phoenix homepage was more interesting and less predictable than Kina’s album.
Maybe that’s unnecessarily harsh. Rewind: if Epic can do it with Macy Gray, why can’t Dreamworks dish up their very own version of a saavy, folk-urban black lassie for mass media consumption? The difference is, Dreamworks’ try gives us a sound that’s artfully manufactured, but artistically uninspired. Her voice is soul-influenced and spiceless, her rhythms are the conveniently chic R&B beat meets electric edge, and her lyrics are heartbroken but not pathetic. It’s a nifty 11 song package that could be the soundtrack for a blue jeans commercial or an afterschool special. You can almost hear the music execs in the background, talking with dollar signs in their eyes… “girls in the suburbs who’ve just been dumped…yeah, that’s our demographic.”
Poor Kina, I say. She’s not talentless, but goddammit she’s boring. In fact, writing this review is really difficult, because the album is almost without high or low point. Just to be nitpicky (and to have something to do,) I’ll say the high point is “Girl from the Gutter,” because that has the longest title, and the low point is “U Don’t Know” because of that friggin obnoxious “U.” Don’t let me convince you not to buy Kina, though. After all, listening to it is like Velvetta, and Velvetta is not without enjoyment. It’s got cool packaging, it’s a funny color, and oddly it takes all right. But you don’t write home about Velvetta. And personally, I still like the real stuff better.