Releasing a second album is often more terrifying for an artist than releasing their debut, as the sophomore effort has to either live up to or do better than the debut and with a debut like ‘Ashes’, Kyla La Grange was in for a challenge with ‘Cut Your Teeth’.
Kyla has made a very interesting move with the new album. Where ‘Ashes’ roared with the primal fury of a Lion through bombastic Folk Rock, ‘Cut Your Teeth’ shimmers with the understated beauty of a dove (with peach highlights) through minimalist Electronica.
Title track and album opener ‘Cut Your Teeth’ rings like a grooving Cyndi Lauper-esque ballad at first, but is actually quite a sombre and brooding affair. The reverberating beats and minacious bass accompany Kyla’s lyrically solemn anguish as she laments “bleeding words on to a page for you” despite her love interest never knowing her name.
‘Maia’ releases both Kyla and us from the raw emotion that ‘Cut Your Teeth’ delivers as her soothing soprano guides us through verses of toe tapping electro rhythms and London Grammer-esque guitar work. The chorus exhibits Kyla’s deliciously slithery lower vocal tones and adds in some highly welcomed synth and bell work.
‘Cannibals’ is an instant highlight. Jakwob’s minimalist soundscapes allow Kyla’s majestic vocals to shine in epic proportions on this lachrymose lullaby. The song is a progressive stream as the first half features Kyla’s melancholic vocals accompanied by the mournful chords of the piano and atmosphere along with the occasional hit of a drum. But for the last half, we are reminded of the Kyla La Grange we came to know through her single ‘Walk Through Walls’ as she coos alongside the thunderous finale. It’s easy to see why Kyla and Jakwob consider this their favourite song on the album.
‘I Don’t Hate You’ is probably the most “radio-friendly” song on the album, the effervescent personality that radiates through this song recalls the guilty pleasure that we all shared in 2009 that was La Roux (Don’t even try to deny it).
‘White Doves’ is another highlight. Not entirely unlike the Ether-Pop elf known as Grimes, it reminds us of how well suited Kyla’s voice is to the beautiful world of Electronica. The cut smacks with ethereality but rides smoothly along it’s catchy xylophone beat.
‘I’ll Call For You’ is the more full-bodied nightmarish song. Where ‘Cannibals’ was almost bare-to-the-bone, ‘I’ll Call For You’, filled with menacing bass, beats and static glitches, moves with a rippling aura of gloom and has the power to put listeners into a trance.
‘The Knife’ is the album’s current single and it is impossible not to like. Tropical-yet-mystical, ‘The Knife’ is fuelled by calypso rhythms (thanks to the genius use of steel drums) that Jamie XX would’ve nodded at in approval. Despite the music’s encouragement for us to dance, Kyla’s lyrics still remain as dark and bloodthirsty as ever; “One day, I’ll sleep and never wake//And the air will take the colour from my face”. Nevertheless, this is still an amazing piece of music.
‘Fly‘ probably exhibits Kyla’s most captivating vocal to date. Even with it’s stuttering beat, it’s confidence create such an elegant air of majesty that sets it up for a commanding chorus where, once again, Kyla astonishes your ears with her effortless soprano as she sings the stories of various adolescents struggling with the depressions of their youth.
‘Never That Young’ is a glowing Electro-Pop duet featuring up-and-coming Folk artist Jinnwoo on chorus vocals. Despite being very synth-heavy, Kyla’s backing vocals along with the drum recall African tribal music to great effect.
Closing the album is the uptempo ‘Get it’, a booming piece of Synth pop featuring lyrics of Kyla claiming to not be a hero and singing to a loved one that they deserve better than what they have. Of all the new material, ‘Get It’ probably resembles ‘Ashes’ the most.
While it may lack the instant punch of ‘Ashes’, ‘Cut Your Teeth’ is a piece of subtle beauty full of magnificent artistry.
‘Cut Your Teeth’ will be released June 2nd, 2014.
Watch the video for ‘The Knife’ below: