REVIEW: Kerli – ‘Utopia’ EP

By: Ben Norman
It’s honestly tough to accept a drastic change sometimes. The radical shift from the dark side to the bright and happy of dance that Estonian singer Kerli has accomplished in the last couple years has been rough. Rough, but oh so rewarding. While her darker days will always be missed, being graced with beautiful and emotional dance tracks, such as her latest hit “The Lucky Ones,” is nothing to scoff at. And one of Kerli’s biggest strengths is her unique and distinctive voice. It is breathy with a strong enunciation, a sort of pronounced way of singing her words. Think of Shirley Manson from Garbage, raise her up a little bit, and then throw her over some thick beats.

Kerli’s new effort launches with “The Lucky Ones” as a gorgeous hello track, reintroducing her to anyone that may have missed “Army of Love” and “Zero Gravity.” And “The Lucky Ones” is just the beginning, as Utopia, the artist’s first EP since her debut album, reminds us that Kerli is a proven chameleon. The EP radically changes pace, from the fast beats of “Can’t Control the Kids” to the uplifting strings of “Love Me or Leave Me” (which will dominate floors with the right remix). At just 7 tracks, you may expect to be unfulfilled, or perhaps underwhelmed, but this just isn’t the case. Kerli immerses the listener in the mood of whatever flavor she happens to be enjoying at the time. “Sugar,” for instance, is light and fluffy, confectioner’s sugar that keeps you entertained with hours on the mere thought of a possibility. Conversely, “Chemical” is a deep riptide, pulling you deep into its vast ocean of sound and emotion, her voice pleading with you as it caresses your ears.

It’s hard to ignore the talent on Utopia. It’s crazy that Kerli hasn’t broken, but she hasn’t landed the right track yet. Perhaps with the additional party vibe added onto “Here and Now” might propel her into the mainstream, it’s definitely got that vibe. Or the extra oomph Syn Cole adds to “The Lucky Ones,” driving it over the top (which exactly what we like in our commercial dance music). Utopia has a lot to offer, the question is what will people notice?