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Released: 2016

“Sweet Relief” by Kimbra, at its heart, is an evocative exploration of desire and liberation. The song serves as a compelling anthem for self-discovery, expressing the nuances of longing and release, the pursuit of pleasure, and the quest for freedom from inhibition.

The song starts with a series of rhetorical questions like, “What have I got to do? Gotta get through to you,” signaling a sense of urgency and longing. The repetition of “gotta” conveys a keen desire, intensified by the phrase “skin to skin,” an expression often used to depict intimacy and raw physical interaction. When Kimbra continues with “Gimme that sweet relief”, it’s a clear allusion to her craving for a release from restraint, stress, or anxiety.

The singer’s provocative language further amplifies the song’s theme of desire and liberation. There’s a recurring reference to “touch,” which is a prominent symbol of intimate interaction and directly relates to the physical aspect of desire, as shown in “Come on and touch, I need attention.”

Kaleidoscopic phrases like “95 on your back” and “liquor ain’t cuttin’ it” create an atmosphere of fast-paced action and dissatisfaction, further intensifying her need for a different, more satisfying form of ‘relief’. By claiming that “Liquor ain’t cuttin’ it”, the singer implies the desire for something more substantive and fulfilling than temporary, substance-induced highs.

The chorus employs phrases like “Cool rush!”, “Good boys!”, and “Hot flush!” to mirror the fluctuations in emotional and physical sensation that accompany passion and desire. These showy exclamations also underscore the singer’s craving for a more potent and satisfying form of satisfaction. The “Sweet Relief” is then the coveted state of release and satisfaction, the fulfilment of desire.

Kimbra also cleverly presents the concept of ‘touch’ as a duality. It is both a desire and a boundary she may reluctantly enforce – “Tell me to stop, just wanna touch somebody” – grappling with the conflict between desire and social constraints.

Finally, the song ends on a looping, almost hypnotic note with “Touchin’ my body,” seemingly inviting the listener into a dance of desire and satisfaction, a final affirmation of the song’s sensual vibes, the quintessential Kimbra-style sweet release.

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