Kygo got his start as an inventor of tropical house, then sailed into open waters with his debut album, 2016’s Cloud Nine. There, he masterminded a richly melodic strain of pop that paired his trademark chiming keys with the distinctive voices of guests like John Legend and Foxes. Arriving after 2017’s lush yet comparatively brief Kids in Love, the Norwegian producer's third album is his most expansive yet: a big-hearted big-tent gathering that folds piano ballads, R&B, indie folk, and even country into his blend of soulful pop and featherweight EDM.
Across 18 tracks, Kygo has expanded his sound without jettisoning what made it special in the first place. His trademark marimbas and piano are joined by fingerpicked acoustic guitars, side-chained stabs, buoyant pads, and driving percussion; the promise of high drama is never far from even the most understated moments of chill. Kygo’s roster of vocalists has never been more distinguished: Topping the list is the late Whitney Houston, whose 1990 cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” he flips from a new jack swing anthem into a joyous riff on piano house. With OneRepublic, he turns heartbreak into uplift on “Lose Somebody,” while Zara Larsson and Tyga make lemonade out of the bittersweet fruit of an on-again, off-again affair on the Dua Lipa-penned “Like It Is.” No matter the star power of Kygo’s guests, the album’s vocals are more lovingly rendered than ever: layered, vocodered, and stacked in shimmering close harmony. Trembling, cracking in their depths, or breaking into a high-flying falsetto, Kygo’s singers convey the kind of emotion that can’t be contained, just as his own sound confidently pushes beyond all his previous milestones.