Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo debuts his first studio album of original productions just in time. Many of the tropical tunes off of Cloud Nine are bound to be the effortless sound of summer 2016 but ultimately aren’t likely to make it that much farther. The album is, for the most part, predictable and offers little in terms of innovation, but Kygo still makes a strong debut featuring original tracks that showcase his potential and vision for the future of deep house music.

‘Cloud Nine’ by KYGO Album Review

Kygo’s debut album showcases some of his most successful work so far, including hits like “Stole the Show” featuring Parson James and “Firestone” featuring Conrad Sewell, which have earned him millions of views on YouTube.

Along with those, there are a number of tracks that assert the DJ is completely in touch with his tropical house roots. As a result, very few songs, especially in the first half of the album actually stand out. It is not for lack of creativity but rather due to what seems like a pervasive fixation with a working formula.

The Tom Odell collaboration “Fiction,” though largely in the same tropical vein, is one of them, mostly because of the singer’s intricate vocalization. The piano melody is not something outstanding and neither are the chiming beats, but Odell’s raspy intonations and falsettos bring a raw and unexpected texture to the otherwise highly controlled harmonic environment. Towards the close of the track a freestyle piano riff adds some variety to the entirely repetitive melody, but only briefly.

One of the big surprises in the first half of the album is delivered by Irish alternative band Kodaline, who make an appearance on “Raging.” The distinct rock direction that this track points in sounds like something worth exploring. Written by James Bay, the song opens with gently building guitars before eventually erupting with Kygo’s signature airy piano and synths.

The big name among Kygo’s collaborators is John Legend, who lends his vocals for the somewhat disappointing but overall uplifting “Happy Birthday.” A great deal of the track’s potential is lost in the dullness of its lyrics, even if it had a sweet and touching inspiration – his newborn daughter.

With a few exceptions, Kygo’s choice of collaborators seems to express an affinity for delicate-sounding vocalists like James Vincent McMorrow, Angus & Julia Stone and Will Heard among others. And those prove to be the most intriguing songs on Cloud Nine. By breaking up the classic deep house vocal sound with such contrastingly mellow vocalists the DJ opens up more possibilities for his songs.

For the most part, Cloud Nine appears formulaic, especially when heard in its entirety. The songs, though representative of Kygo’s niche deep house style, offer very little variety. The album is no more diverse that the pack of collaborators that have joined the Norwegian DJ on his venture, yet despite its generic sameness, it is an enjoyable listen and a strong debut for Kygo.

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