By: Elise Gorberg

When Kygo announced the release of his album Cloud Nine, I was excited, to say the least.  Kygo, born Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll, has been a major player in cultivating Tropical House (a lighter subgenre of deep house), and I was anticipating a flourish of refreshing, unexpected sounds, much like the ones that were developed in many of his singles from the past few years.

But for the most part, I was wrong.  With the exception of the pre-released singles included in the album, Cloud Nine is overwhelmingly plain.  There are no surprises, like the striking tropical percussion sounds of Kygo’s 2015 single “Here for You,” or the inventive relaxed vibe of his 2013 remix of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”  Sure, mellowness in music can sometimes be considered positive, but the overdose of laidback vibes in Cloud Nine makes the album utterly boring.

“Raging,” for one, is reminiscent of country-electro blend that characterizes Avicii’s 2013 hit “Wake Me Up,” minus the energized beat drop.  The first build sounds promising, but eventually the song gets repetitive and lacks the stamina to become a full-fledged hit.  The song is still a decent pick for easy listening, but it is far from memorable.

On a more disappointing note, “Fragile” seems to have no redeeming quality at all.  It starts feeling sluggish, and though there is a fraction of a build towards the chorus, it only gives way to a slow, dull let down.

Arguably the worst aspect of this song is the complete lack of electronics.  The accompaniment is almost entirely made up of a simple electric guitar chord progression and a touch of piano.  Anyone choosing to listen to a Kygo song is most likely expecting strong beats and creative percussion, and without either, there is little left to indicate that the song is even his.  Judging by every hit song the DJ has ever had, it is clear that Kygo has made his fame on tropical house and light EDM, not slow jams.

The only hope Cloud Nine has for redemption is the strength of the songs which have already been released.  “Firestone” is a deep, sultry track that features minimal accompaniment in parts, but still showcases Kygo’s talent in creating and layering electronic percussion.  Another song, “Stay,” is lighthearted in comparison, with a fuller, dancier beat that is just as effective.  Both songs, along with a couple others, are solid components to the album, but because they were already released in the past year, they aren’t new, and in turn they aren’t exciting to Kygo listeners anymore, giving Cloud Nine little appeal.

Kygo is undoubtedly a skilled musician, but in his first full album, his talents just don’t speak for themselves.  That said, Kygo’s numerous successful singles indicate that his talent has never been fleeting, and despite this less-than-satisfactory album, there is still promise for albums to come.


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