Sliding into the summer of 2020 holds uncertainty and change, but Kygo still wants the world to dance and find your own freedom — whether it’s by yourself or sun bathing at the parks and lakes that continue to reopen across the country. With his third album release, Golden Hour (released May 29), the 28-year-old Norwegian DJ weaves his vibey style into your soul with 18 tracks filled with his signature sun-kissed, tropical flavor-packed singles primed to be the soundtrack to your summer.
Despite us not being able to celebrate festival season in the traditional sense this year – what we would give for an overpriced margarita right now – at least we have been blessed with the gift of Kygo to transport us to an imaginary island surrounded by epic palm trees and sandy ocean-side views. Following up a three year hiatus after releasing his widely successful Kids in Love, the king of tropical house has returned in full force.
Golden Hour is packed with featured artists, the 18-track album is really the essence of signature Kygo in every way – full of splash-filled, uplifting, piano melodies and surfy beat drops that almost beckon you to the ocean as you dive further into his tropical world.
To most avid Kygo fans, many of the tracks on the album have already been released to the masses ahead of the full project, most notable and recognizable being Higher Love which officially premiered in June 2019. Whitney Houston’s cover of this song is truly a masterpiece and easily stands out among the rest of the releases, marrying her insane range and Kygo’s epic production perfectly (if you happened to be at Electric Forest last summer, this was an absolute magical moment during his live set).
Higher Love has more than 651 million audio and video streams combined and charted at Top 40 radio. Houston lends her insane pop star status to this album to an otherwise lesser known group of featured artists; country star Zac Brown and pop-rock band OneRepublic being the only other bigger names who contributed to this album, neither of these groups achieving that same epic timeless status Whitney achieved from her music career.
Out of the newer tracks, country-infused “Someday” and the pop-influenced “Lose Somebody” help lift up other less iconic tracks such as the mellow-sounding “Only Us” and the been there before feeling of “Follow You”.
It is important that prior point about Houston was acknowledged (come on, she is literal legend), however, both Brown and OneRepublic front-man Ryan Tedder really do demonstrate their own abilities with their contributions. Both of their tracks, Someday and Lose Somebody, carry the weight of more easily glossed over numbers by British singer-songwriters Joe Janiak (Follow) and Haux (Only Us). With an absolutely iconic chorus, Brown’s song is a real hidden gem within this collection of songs that stops you in your tracks, while OneRepublic’s gradually progressive story of loss really guides us through a journey that everyone can connect with and resonate in.
There are certainly other songs on this album that are also worth exploring. The Truth featuring born-and-raised Philadelphian Valerie Broussard, does tend to grab your attention, with easily relatable lyrics about a partner changing over time and keeping the storyteller of the song itself “up all night, wondering why you lie.” Along with that, the track Beautiful with Sandro Cavazza will send goosebumps down your spine, based purely on Sandro’s voice emoting such a unique tone and pure emotion. Sandro and Kygo have worked together often – they released the song Happy Now together almost two years ago, which they dedicated to Avicii. Both these artists were close friends of the late DJ and it’s always so heart-warming to see collaborators influenced by Avicii come together again.
Golden Hour really isn’t a departure from the classic Kygo sound, but certain creations from this album do take his music to a newer, fresher level.
You really can’t listen to this album without immediately knowing that it is Kygo. The inevitably catchy choruses that get stuck in your head, always present tropical house interjections, and overall beachy mood this puts you in make these collaborations of Golden Hour easily able to fit among his other releases on really either of his previous albums Kids In Love or Cloud Nine. However, when Kygo’s sound does veer from that classic sound, it certainly does so to make a point and it shows.
Including dancefloor-ready, incredibly likable tracks like Broken Glass, to rap stylings of Tyga, this album really is arguably his most genre-defining Kygo compilation yet. We do like this new project overall as it does give his music a refreshed sound, but also keeps him grounded to his roots and overall genre space that he occupies in the EDM community. Essentially, it is both renewing and unapologetically Kygo in the way his fans would want this to be. Through it all, as an artist, he really always delivers — even when the world seems to be in chaos around us, his music shines through with a glimmer of hope. Catch the full album below:
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