Review: KYLE – Light of Mine

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California native KYLE's debut album is an impressive exhibition of his prodigious talent, which only seems to be increasing. Featuring an array of guest stars such as Kehlani, Khalid and 2 Chainz, Light of Mine is a joyride that you won't want to end.

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It has been only seventeen months since KYLE released his infectiously catchy, viral hit ‘iSpy’, yet a lot has changed. The success of ‘iSpy’ catapulted the 25-year-old Californian into the limelight, securing him his first record deal (with Atlantic Records) and thrusting his name onto a string of ‘One to Watch’ lists. His distinctive blend of buoyant beats and relentless positivity provided a refreshing dose of optimism for many and instantly marked him out as different from others in his profession. Therefore, KYLE’s debut studio album, titled Light of Mine, comes burdened with heightened expectations and a widespread curiosity to find out whether he can replicate his early success.

The first thing which must be said is that Light of Mine is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Its fifty-one-minute running time positively breezes by, with each track seamlessly transitioning into the next and it is a genuine disappointment when the final seconds of ‘iSpy’ (the album’s closing track) fizzle out. Combining his rapping/singing hybrid with retro electronic beats tinged by trap influences, KYLE effortlessly takes us on a journey through his increasingly creative imagination. The album starts strongly with ‘Ups and Downs’, in which KYLE references both the positives and negatives in his life whilst being supported by a catchy electronic reverb, sparkling guitar riff and effective chorus. This is followed by the short yet sweet ‘Coming, Going?’, which slows down the pace and showcases KYLE’s more sensitive side alongside a neo-soul beat.

The middle section of the album is saturated with features, including turns from Alessia Cara, 2 Chainz, Kehlani, and Khalid. These features vary in quality, with the outlier being the 2 Chainz-featuring ‘Ikuyo’ which grates on the listener due to the irritating beat and lazy verses of the Atlanta rapper. The rest, however, are exceptional. ‘Babies’ features a sparkling cameo from Alessia Cara, working effectively in tandem with KYLE to lighten up a rather dull track. ‘Playinwitme’, the lead single from the album, is a catchy, irrepressible delight which sees KYLE at his playful best with Kehlani providing an exceptional female foil. ‘iMissMe’ featuring Khalid is equally delightful, matching up two of the hottest rising talents over an 80s inspired, synth-heavy beat. The outstanding track of all the features actually comes from the least well-known artist, former The Voice USA contestant Avery Wilson, whose dulcet tones match perfectly with KYLE’s stylistic quirks on ‘OpenDoors’, a track which essentially amounts to a modern take on a classic R&B love song.

The final section of the album finishes with a flourish, showcasing two of the album’s best tracks in ‘To the Moon’ and ‘Rodeo’. ‘To the Moon’ is a pulsating, classic hip-hop track which combines a thumping bassline with a catchy beat and an aggression and intensity from KYLE rarely seen across the rest of the album. On the other hand, ‘Rodeo’ is a typically upbeat R&B track which cleverly utilises a twinkling piano with a catchy chorus that will have you singing along in no time.

Light of Mine is a triumph of inventive lyricism, crisp production and positive vibes. Exceeding all expectations set before its release, this debut album shows an artist in full flow, making a statement to the musical world that they are here to stay. The effortless manner in which KYLE has seemingly approached the album would suggest that he is comfortable with expectation and hype which, after this album, will only continue to increase and heighten.

Light of Mine is out now via Atlantic Records.

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