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WPGM Recommends: Kygo – Cloud Nine (Album Review)

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Norwegian rising star DJ, producer and musician, Kygo, recently released his debut album Cloud Nine on May 13, and it is packed with dance vibes and summer feels. Kygo first gained international attention with his remix of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire”, which reached 33 million plays on Soundcloud and his own single “Firestone” that received 400 million plays on Spotify. Overall, Kygo has amassed over 300 million views on his Soundcloud account and YouTube.

Cloud Nine features vocals from well-known artist such as Labrinth, Kodaline and John Legend. One song that particularly stands out on the album is “Fragile” with guest vocals from Labrinth. Labrinth’s soulful tones and powerful notes capture the feeling of the song. When his voice breaks, you feel how truly fragile he is, and when he hits the harder, more impressive notes, you feel the fight within the song to be strong.

Combined with a drum and bass undertone, you can imagine this song taking the clubs by storm, acting as the intermission song between the heavier dance tunes. It is a classic house song with soul layers and it displays how two varying genres can combine to create one hybrid anthem.

With the lyric, “But I won’t let go cause I’m not like him”, a battle of trust is recognised, Labrinth’s love has been damaged by a previous partner and Labrinth is fighting to prove that he is not the same, that he will always be with this person no matter how fragile they have been left. The tumultuous ways of love are identified, cradled in the disguise of an upbeat rhythm.

For What It’s Worth” is another belter track, with the harmonising voices of Angus and Julia Stone. The Stone siblings are an Australian folk group, which already speaks about the tones of their singing, before the song is even heard. They are beautifully coupled, despite the understanding that folk and house music do not appear as though they would mix into one delicious creation.

Kygo’s masterful efforts have achieved this and there is a softer side about this song that is both welcoming and comforting. Julia’s tone is dramatic and high, which is undercut by the huskier levels of Angus’ company that altogether provides a soothing synchrony. Even when they drop the f-bomb, it is not as cutting to hear, due to their soft tones and instead adds a sense of nonchalant reflection within the song, “We were just kids making it up, We got blind even when we f****ed it up”.

The song is for the most part acoustic, with a melodic piano accompaniment, but Kygo introduces a drum and bass beat during the chorus to remind us of his presence. It is a fresh example of collaborations between perhaps unexpected music artists and is successful in creating a concord to unite contrasting musical fields. The full version is available on Spotify, but there is a snippet of the piano background here to gain a feel for the track.

The album is soft in its approach to drum and bass. Kygo does not attack the listener and assault the senses with an explosion of heavy bass lines whilst losing the meaning and contribution of the guest vocalists. Instead, it is clear that Kygo prioritises the words rather than the beat and compliments the singers with his music after it has been recorded. “Fiction” featuring Tom Odell is one such track.

Kygo obviously had a route in mind when he chose to include Odell in his project, as Odell’s voice does not scream drum and bass. However, Kygo’s expertise at pairing voices with a beat has paid off on this track, as Odell’s unique vocals are flattered by a lifting bass and a summer tone to create a wholly interesting sound. Odell’s talents are obvious, as artists cannot usually be so varied within their musical fields yet Kygo manages to produce both a powerfully emotive and dance-y hit.

Kygo has achieved a consistent album of drum and bass, which is difficult to achieve when there are such varying vocalists within the project. Cloud Nine is definitely an album to be bagged for summer, as these tracks will be sure to make appearances at club nights and are sure to be the sound of the holidays. Kygo’s Cloud Nine is out now via Ultra Records/Sony Music, purchase it on iTunes here.

Words by Libby Beacham

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