Kalin & Myles' debut LP (out today) has been (an excruciatingly-long) four years in the making. Following a string of self-produced EPs and one-off singles, the 12-track project (on Republic) is the first time the Bay Area duo have exuded the kind of artistry that has solidified acts like Big Sean and Jason Derulo into the pop pantheon. The anchoring lead-in, Brokenhearted, is a charming blend of urban vibrancy and Top 40-pounding immediacy, ringing the alarm of massive hypnotics and polish. The duo combs together smooth melodies constructed over astonishing hip-hop fumes, amassing global appeal and attainability. Hands All Over and Change My Life are heart-racing strings of commercial notions, allowing tracks like the psychedelic, dance-escape Out My Mind and the brash Get it Get It (featuring P-LO) to scatter the album into especially cool, experimental moments.
It is when Kalin and Myles freely play outside the urban lines that results in some of the more compelling tracks. 808, with Jack & Jack, is an exceptionally dazed sucker-punch, which opens up into a biting and sweeping chorus. The slow-jam Curfew Overtime and the sensual coo of I See You, too, are resounding climactic peaks of vocal delicacy, provocative narratives and accomplished musicality. The production is often packed on thick throughout Kalin & Myles, but the singers utilize the sweet parts of their instruments to permit the lyrics to explode into the sky. Do What You Do is a particularly personal, vulnerable, raw album closer; they are more than just fun-loving guys living the dream. "Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the present and what it really means to really be present," Myles drops on the first verse, leading into the idea of what success, fame and fortune really do mean. "Success is being able to find happiness within yourself before you put it into something else. Being happy is the most successful thing you can experience in this life," the performer shared with us this week. At the core of the record, it is evident Kalin and Myles are happy. "I came to have fun," they profess on the slinky Lil Function preamble. Suiting up drama-free music built from grassroots social efforts and a foundation of throwback R&B nods, the duo's first full-length is admirable, solid even (Shake It and Taking My Time, with Kool John, for example, are not inherently memorable or clever) and should lead to a satisfying career for both them and their fans.
Must-Listen Tracks: "Get It Get It," "Do What You Do," "808," "Out My Mind"
Grade: 3.5 out of 5