Published Jul 15, 2020The reception to Kllo's dance-inflected debut, Backwater, in 2017 sent the Melbourne-based duo touring around the globe twice. But their next attempt would lead vocalist Chloe Kaul and producer Simon Lam towards burnout. Exasperated and without a record to show, the next two years saw the artists creatively independent from one another: Kae moved to Los Angeles, while Lam disappeared globetrotting or hustled at home. Both grew their solo careers, collaborated with other artists, and released new music. But there was no word on when, or if, Kllo would try again.
Their tightly wrought sophomore release, Maybe We Could, is a brooding yet effervescent evidence of this trying-again. Kay's lyrics and breathy delivery hover between ambiguity and strong emotion while Lam's beats take up just enough space. Think sustained piano chords pursued by '90s rave drums and shorn vocal clips.
For sure, the elements at play here are not new for Kllo. Nevertheless you get a sense of growth within the artists two personalities: the balladeer in Kae presents a more sombre edge, while the sensitive dancefloor inclinations of Lam angle more readily towards a minimal hedonism. Maybe We Could benefits from this sparsity on the title track as well as on "My Gemini," where staccato vocal ensemble samples and high-pass drums clips slap over grimy sub-bass. It's an interlude between more effusive cuts like "Ironhand" and lead single "Still Here." Groovier still, "A Mirror" kicks a four-on-the-floor feel away from verbal analysis and towards an instrumental insistency reminiscent of Ghostly International labelmate Sheigeto.
Forever fans of the duo will find more of what they love here but in a new enough configuration to surprise. It's a release that somehow feels like it has less to prove from a duo not quite overdue for their follow-up to a huge success. (Ghostly International)