KLLO - MAYBE WE COULD (Colored Vinyl) LP
Time and distance can offer perspective. For Kllo (rhymes with "flow"), the electronic pop collaboration of Melbourne cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam, applying these parameters was necessary to get through the near-dissolution of their band. Following Kllo’s adored full-length debut Backwater in 2017, the duo toured the world twice over and shared a handful of standalone singles reflecting an evolved mode in their songwriting, a confluence of silky balladry and smooth bangers. But when it came time to make their next record, nothing clicked. Feeling overworked and out of sync, they abandoned recording sessions at the end of 2018, each going their own way without setting any plans to regroup. Kaul spent time in Los Angeles where she explored solo and collaborative work; Lam traveled as well, releasing music under his solo alias and producing for other artists. The experiences served as a reset, giving them space to learn separately, and, ultimately, to appreciate what they have together. Largely written and recorded upon their return, Maybe We Could signals a new start for Kllo. Ten tracks pairing the rhythms of dance music to emotive chords and melodies; revealing two artists at their strongest yet most vulnerable, operating as their truest selves, honest with each other and their craft."Kllo was kind of our whole lives, all consumingly. Now we can see it from the outside, as a project that is part of our lives," says Lam. "We needed that break, it was a healthy detachment," adds Kaul. "Writing with others has helped me realize that we figured out our sound straight away, from the first EP, naturally. I didn’t know how hard it was to get that with just anyone." Songs on Maybe We Could grapple with familiar dynamics: unrequited love, doubts, desires, and decisions. Musically, the album finds Kllo following their impulses, embracing a more subdued and nuanced tone. "A lot of it is more downtempo because we naturally gravitate towards that," says Lam. He continues, "In the past, we’ve tried to speed things up and push away from that... but now we're sitting where it feels comfortable to us. Comfortable but also daring, because we know it’s not as polished in certain ways." Kaul expands, "We’re doing us, we’re doing Kllo. We’re a bit older now. We aren’t compromising as much on this album. It's a little bit classier and more tasteful this time around.""Still Here" strikes the balance Kllo speaks of. An experiment in tempo, the track began as a piano ballad before they added ‘90s rave-style drums underneath. "It took us a lot of time to trust in this decision," says Kaul. "Here is us trying to take that combination as far as we can, fusing two styles of music that we love," says Lam. In the lyrics, Kaul outlines unwavering dedication in the midst of despair. "Let’s keep on learning," she sings, echoing the line "I’m not going anywhere" into a bright, euphoric chorus. "Insomnia" simmers in a similar melancholy, skittering steely beats around tender keys. It’s one of the few songs written from separate locations when both artists were in North America independently, and its feeling reflects a sense of jet-lagged joy and displacement, the "high highs, low lows" as one line goes.The album’s apex is “Somehow,” a swirling dance track undercut by an imbalanced relationship. Left to do the heavy-lifting, the narrator expresses her frustrations as club-ready percussion and synth lines spiral out of stasis. The dialogue continues on "Ironhand," a pointed, bittersweet R&B ode to the fear of loss and change. "This song was written at a point in my life when I began to be more discerning of the costs vs. gains in certain relationships in my life," says Kaul. Maybe We Could mirrors the progression and growth of the two artists behind a singular project. The title references a phrase they repeat often when recording. A collective strategy towards facing uncertainty, taking chances, and making choices. Ones that become more deliberate as time rolls on. Lam sums it up, "It’s like the album started off with 'maybe' and ended with 'definitely.’"