Kids in Love offers a catchy, well-constructed album, but one that ultimately fails to deliver on the emotional potential of its title.
Kygo is an artist with an interesting career trajectory, to say the least. Mostly known among the general populous for his remixes of popular songs such as Ed Sheeran‘s ‘I See Fire’ and Marvin Gaye‘s ‘Sexual Healing’, until in late 2014 when he turned his attention to music production with the release of the widely successful ‘Firestone’ featuring Conrad. He then went on to release further singles leading up to his debut album Cloud Nine which included several high-profile guest appearances such as Labrinth, Tom Odell and even esteemed producer John Legend; a far cry from his early days as a SoundCloud ‘remixer’. In the years since its release, Kygo has continued to release singles which show off his unique, tropical house style, with yet more high profile guest appearances.
And now in his sophomore album, Kids in Love, Kygo wisely ditches his more recent single releases ‘It Ain’t Me’ and ‘Stargazing’ to produce a tight and fresh eight-track album. Rather unexpectedly, Kids in Love sees the producer move away from his traditional dance and house roots to adopt a slightly more diverse and colourful sound, focussing more on the sound instead of the spectacle and potential for performance. It is grounded, down to earth stuff and a fascinating new direction for the producer.
Standout tracks tend to be those where Kygo makes the best use of vocals provided by well-known featured artists. The aptly named ‘Stranger Things’ is an enticing electronic track featuring the vocals of One Republic‘s Ryan Tedder. Here the frontman is given full reign to show his vocal talent and generally impresses amongst Kygo’s synthy production. Another great track is the John Newman opener, ‘Never Let You Go’, which again utilises the talents of its lyricist to create a pulse-pounding track that builds towards a weighty chorus. Despite such talented guest appearances, Kygo’s production is still given time to shine and nowhere is this more apparent than in titular track ‘Kids in Love’. An emotional ballad that showcases Kygo’s talent as a pianist as well as his ability as a producer, both piano and synth fuse to create one of the most memorable tracks in his repertoire.
But with the album’s successes, other tracks fail to deliver. Despite some interesting changes, some tracks feel too familiar to the producer’s previous works and taken as a whole this seems to outweigh the change in the better tracks. In terms of lyrics, it lacks originality and inspiration, falling into the all too familiar modern tropes that plague much of chart music. In this sense, Kygo fails to deliver on the premise of the title which may have suggested some kind of lyrical journey for the listener; instead, the lyrics offer only repetition and stagnation.
Overall, Kids in Love is further evidence that Kygo is capable of crafting exciting dance and house music. The standout tracks are enjoyable and use their guest vocalists to great effect to give synergy between the producer and his featured artists that is a joy to behold. But unfortunately, this does not extend to all the tracks on the album, the worst of which feel bland and forgettable. Given this inconsistency, where Kygo goes from here is of great interest, he is certainly still an artist to keep an eye on.
Kids in Love is out now via Sony