KYKO has been quietly building a dedicated following since his first EP release, Animals, in 2015. One of the latest teen prodigies in an ever-extending line of internet artists, Scott Verrill put out his first project when he was just 18. His newest release, Wildlife (3/10/2017 via LAB Records), is a confident sophomore EP showcasing his natural knack for marrying modern indie pop with lightweight tropical sounds, all blanketed by his clean, uplifting vocals.
All four tracks on KYKO’s new record are adventurous summer anthems, that inspire daydreams of escape. The opener, “Horizon,” most represents slight dissatisfaction and the spirit of teenage rebellion. Like the best songs always do, it encapsulates a powerful and relatable feeling.
If you lock me up, I will break out
If you push me in, I will fall down
You’re with me wherever I go, oh oh oh
I see beyond the horizon, chasing the sun as it’s rising
With me wherever I go, oh oh oh
With dynamic verses backed up by chopped vocals and a dancehall-inspired beat, it communicates an indescribable need to escape in a way words alone can’t.
Listen: “Horizon” – KYKO
The groovy and tropical sounds of “Nature” come next. An ode to being yourself and letting the tide carry you instead of fighting it, the song itself flows effortlessly. Verrill’s breezy vocals float over the light, tribal percussion and deep basslines to create a musically complex, yet extremely approachable, track.
But you keep running from the water and it’s coming to getcha
Feeling like a tide filling up with the pressure
But you keep on hanging on a wire, tryin’ to hold it together
Don’t you know you’re never gonna mother your nature?
“Nature” is the brightest track on the record and Verrill’s favorite of the four, both musically and lyrically. The vocal delivery sounds like a rising tide, reinforcing the words they carry. It’s a relatable message and one that’s all too easily forgotten – we can’t control everything, and if we try, we will fail. Best to leave some things to Mother Nature.
Third up is “Dive In,” a plucky, sun-soaked gem set apart by its breathy backing vocals. They add a certain depth and personality to the track, contrasting Verrill’s crystal clear delivery.
And I’ve learned my lesson once or twice
I’ve got one chipped shoulder, one’s alright
And I need to feed this appetite
Well, I’ve been waiting on my luck too long
Listen: “Dive In” – KYKO
Lyrically, “Dive In” once again expresses a need to let loose and dive into… the water? Life itself? Love? Whatever it is, it plays back into KYKO’s affinity for references to nature and water, specifically. There is something particularly freeing about feeling the tide wash over you, isn’t there?
The subject matter of KYKO’s work fits the soundtrack it is set to gracefully; they are songs for breaking free and taking flight. The theme continues with the fourth and final track on the EP, “Drive.” With a flowing bassline as the backbone of the song, plucky guitars create a swinging, South African rhythm while loose drums and hushed backing vocals fill in the gaps.
Go out and drive
‘Cause I leave it in the wild
Wanna go where you, go where you are
A surprisingly anthemic tune, “Drive” rounds out the EP with positive energy and an air of excitement – the kind of feeling you get right before you jump in the water, or your plane is just about to take off. The only song on the track that explicitly describes moments of an adventure, it feels like a tying up of ends; we finally get the experience we’ve been yearning for throughout the rest of the EP. And yet, listeners are left itching for a journey of their own after these 20 or so minutes of wanderlust-inducing tracks.
Through all of this, Verrill’s vocal talent is not to be left out. His voice varies from track to track, complementing the instrumental specifically and impressively each time. His diverse delivery and adjustment of tone and pitch keeps the tracks fresh and incredibly individual; each song features a different element of KYKO’s personal sound. And while they are all strong enough to stand alone, the come together beautifully as a comprehensive record – an impressive demonstration of growth on his second release.
With flawlessly clean production and a seamless sound, KYKO’s Wildlife EP is a masterpiece in catchy, summer tunes that also have depth. It seems simple, but is exactly the opposite. With complex rhythms, memorable lyricism and just the right amount of vocal work and layers, KYKO proves to be more than just your average electro indie pop artist. His lush, tropical vibes that refuse to sacrifice a danceable beat are destined to take over your summer playlists. And if we’re being honest, probably your playlists for fall, winter, and spring, too.
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cover © gaelle beri