Artist: Kllo

Title: Maybe We Could

Label: Good Manners Records

Rating: 7/10

Words: Emanuel Matos

There’s a moment in the lives of most young adults where the blurry club nights and dancefloor anthems no longer fulfil their promise. Some grow out of it; others search for a deeper connection within the rhythms and sounds of the past.Australian duo Kllo work their way towards that connection on Maybe We Could, their second full-length album after 2017’s Backwater.

The resulting ten songs feel intimate, often mellow, but ripe for a broader audience

Counter-intuitively to what would be expected from a group who forged their sound in UK garage and 2-step, the second cousins Chloe Kaul (vocals, keyboards) and Simon Lam (production) invest more into bass, pop and r&b this time around. The resulting ten songs feel intimate, often mellow, but ripe for a broader audience.

Take the tame, synth-laced opener “Cursed”. The elastic beat and background vocal samples contrast with Kaul’s serene voice, ultimately giving way to a warm chorus that steers into the indie-pop territory of breakthrough artists such as Clairo and brings back memories of early The xx.

Throughout the remainder of the record, Lam shifts gears between breakbeat and house-infused drums (“Still Here”, “My Gemini”) and retrofitted r&b moody beats where piano keys command the melody (“Insomnia”, “Ironhand”). Moreover, there’s a latent dichotomy between brighter and gloomier chord progressions; the latter seems more fitting to Kaul’s vocal style on the surface. Still, the dreamy “Somehow” – arguably the album’s most radio-friendly song – provides a unique counter-argument, and doubles as welcomed halfway palate cleanser.

These oscillations lay bare the endeavours of a producer refining his introverted-yet-danceable sound while trying to stay true to sonic stepping stones that birthed Kllo

These oscillations lay bare the endeavours of a producer refining his introverted-yet-danceable sound while trying to stay true to sonic stepping stones that birthed Kllo. Lo-fi elements and textures that felt unassuming in previous releases are now matured to the point of becoming full-body compositions, evident in tracks like “My Gemini” and “A Mirror”, and vocals feel less atmospheric.

The best example of this is the album’s melancholic title track, where the gentle bass music instrumental and the trademark vocal samples leave enough room for the fragility of the lyrics to shine through and take centre-stage, in what is perhaps Kaul’s best performance.

Despite the lyrical content orbiting around the topics of relationship struggle and finding comfort in hopelessness, the uplifting “1 Up” is a late surprise that showcases a contrasting side of Kllo. Here the duo expands into contemporary hip-hop territory with a newfound confidence that shines through musically and lyrically. Unfortunately, there aren’t many moments where this self-assurance gives way to sonic exploration. The pair does get a bit too snug within their comfort zone, and when potential risky moves exist they feel calculated, like the closing track “Just Checking In”.

Still, the evolution from the last handful of years is palpable. Family ties aside, Kllo’s extensive touring and particular recording process have built a robust artistic co-dependence that now sees the Melbourne duo progressing their characteristic sound towards new paths. Maybe We Could is about finding your footing, becoming more confident in your choices, and realising that you don’t need to severely cut ties with the past to build new connections with your future self. 

Maybe We Could is out now via Good Manners Records

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