This Norwegian DJ-producer (real name Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll) is already a bigger deal than you realise. At 24, he’s reached a billion Spotify streams faster than any other artist and is now being booked to headline festivals such as London’s Wireless in July. But huge DJ-producer types generally build their reputation through hit singles and lucrative live sets, not old-fashioned albums, which is probably why Kygo’s debut seems slightly delayed. It’s been over a year since he cracked the Top 10 with breakthrough single ‘Firestone’ and seven of these 15 tracks, including his recent hits ‘Stole The Show’ and ‘Stay’, are already available online.
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That’s not to say ‘Cloud Nine’ feels like a hits-and-filler job. Kygo’s shimmering tunes are sung by a decent cast of medium-weight stars (John Legend, Labrinth, Kodaline, Tom Odell, Foxes, Angus and Julia Stone) and his quality control is actually pretty impressive. Chugging guitar riffs meet percolating beats sweetly on the Odell-led ‘Fiction’; his Kodaline collaboration ‘Raging’ is as folky and emotional as you’d hope; the Legend-sung ‘Happy Birthday’ manages to transcend its cheesy title.
Although the lyrics aren’t generally very memorable, they at least steer clear of the usual EDM clichés about hands in the air and shots of Patrón. On ‘Stay’, rising star Maty Noyes even offers an insight into a complicated romantic relationship, singing: “You wanna leave her, don’t wanna hurt nobody/I don’t believe a single word you say or that you’re sorry”.
Several other tracks stand out – Foxes has fun belting out the [a]Sia[/a]-penned anthem ‘Oasis’, and the Labrinth-led ‘Fragile’ is a bombastic slab of soulful electronica. But perhaps inevitably, Kygo’s relatively restrained sound becomes repetitive over a 55-minute running time. Too many tracks build slowly towards a reasonably uplifting instrumental break without quite becoming full-on bangers. ‘Cloud Nine’ could certainly do with a few more musical ideas, but this shouldn’t trouble Kygo unduly – after all, the same problem never held back David Guetta and Calvin Harris.