3 out of 5
Produced by: Jason Rufuss Sewell
Label: Kimberly Freeman Productions
Genre skipping between goth pop – a la Two Ton Boa, or The Paper Chase, or a handful of other John Congleton-produced acts – and synthwave, Kimberly Freeman’s Into Outer Space surpasses the predictability of its high school poetry lyrics with some impressively dense compositions and a thoughtfulness with its quirkiness that maintains listenability over just being weird. That ‘skipping,’ though, prevents Freeman from really landing on a formula that feels like her own, excepting a couple of standout tracks – Live Or Die, Insecure – that do away with simple stylistic tags and just become solid, wholly delivered pop tracks. The latter half of the disc sharpens up the lyrics a bit, or at least trades in the youthful ‘everyone judges me / I don’t care what you say about me’ deprecation for some oddball narratives (3009) or more open-ended imagery, but at the same time, the music simplifies down into very strictly synthwave stuff, which doesn’t have as much character or enthusiasm as when Freeman is backed by synths along with what sound like legit instruments.
Overall, Into Outer Space is a good surprise: the cutesy beat a cooingly negative lyrics had me assuming the whole thing would be a pretty generic listen, but Freeman’s songwriting skills, and Jason Rufuss Sewell’s rootsy production, impress. While the album doesn’t necessarily hold on to that goodwill throughout, it’s definitely promising.