New wave might be thought of as a sound of the past, but with his debut album, Ethiopian-born Kenna shows that it can be very current.
Shelved for more than a year, New Sacred Cow flashes back to the eighties with its tech pop sound, but the Neptunes' Chad Hugo's production brings the sound forward with a harder-hitting sound. Kenna combines the dark, industrial sound with songs about loss, struggle and insecurities, but the hard beats and the generally fast pace keep up interest and avoid bringing the listener too far into his depressed world filled with lyrics like "Hell Bent"'s "controlling me, controlling me/ naked, broken, my world closing/ and I can't find myself/ or my way out/ my walls are closing in."
The album's standout is "I'm Gone," a funked up electronic pop song that, despite somewhat self-conscious lyrics (which look upbeat compared to much of the rest of the album) could get any crowd onto its feet. Despite the often gloomy, introspective lyrics, the music itself keeps interest up in this stellar debut. It makes little sense why Fred Durst originally signed him to his Flawless Records, but Durst might want o take some cues from Kenna and start creating some genuine sounding angst through well-crafted and innovative music and thoughtful lyrics.