FRESH MUSIC FRIDAY: KHALID, COTERIE AND KEHLANI

Welcome back to Fresh Music Friday! This week, Sophie, Christine and Kaela give us the low-down on new releases from Khalid, Coterie and Kehlani.


SKYLINE – KHALID

Sophie: I usually live for Khalid, but for this one it’s like I kept waiting for the bass to drop and it never came. I don’t know, I found the song kind of monotonous. Sorry Khalid!

Christine: Khalid returns with a suave disco-pop track, which boasts a versatile song production and sees him step away from the modern R&B sound that kick-started his break into the music industry. The opening bars of “Skyline” was unexpected, reflecting a 90s/early 2000s reverb and utilised vocal distortion. The startling 16 seconds is but a passing thought however, when it transitions into a rhythmic dance bop, with a nod to the discotheque soundscape. The song follows the release of his 2021 mixtape, Scenic Drive, and he sings, “It’s a Wednesday night and we’re running out of time / Won’t you take my hand, hop into my skyline?”- about feeling hypnotised when he’s with his love interest. “Skyline” is a groovy song which deserves an add to the ‘roadtrippin’ playlist.  He tells us that it “feels like we’re on LSD”, while his vocals soothe us and are akin to that hallucinogenic hit, offering a fever dream.

Kaela: This track is super light-hearted – a bright melody buoyed by a disco-infused vibe. It’s a bubbly, pop track that could definitely have been on Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia”. Is it a cute party song? Sure. Am I in love with it? Not particularly. I think it definitely has a lot of charm but is a song that will easily get lost amidst a realm of other bubbly, bright pop songs. The disco element was definitely an attempt to provide a point of difference, which I appreciate, however, I think it also distorts the clarity of Khalid’s discography to an extent. It almost seems like he’s confused as to what his own sound really is – evident through the juxtaposition between “Skyline” and “Last Call” which didn’t drop much earlier. This track seems jarring against the moody, pining vocals and sonics that he’s presented in the past.


EVERYTHING – KEHLANI

Sophie: Okay, go off girl. I like that it’s softer, but still has her edge, the second verse especially slaps. Combining a soft mellow song with rap?!? Love her.

Christine: Smooth, honeyed vocals trace the melody of Kehlani’s “Everything’”, and endeavours to describe the overwhelming sensation of being wholly enraptured by their partner. Loved-up, Kehlani embraces the intimate scene and anchors desire in their lyricism, singing “You got my attention babe / You can’t forget to mention, babe / I’ma keep you lifted / You so fuckin’ gifted”. “Everything”, follows their last album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t (2020) which was built on the stakes of love in relationships, held against the backdrop of distance and isolation, elements which were inspired by quarantine during the height of COVID-19. A simple finger picking pattern from the guitar holds the song on its own and houses the track into a snug space. “Everything” is the second last track in their latest album, Blue Water Road, released today, acting as an ode to their queer journey with “talks about love and coming into gayness.”

Kaela: As a long-time Kehlani fan, I will try my best to remain as unbiased as possible with this music take. (Please note, I will still most likely be highly biased with this take but hey, A for effort am I right? No? Ok..) We get a taste of the song halfway through the new album – Blue Water Road (which, I would love to dissect in greater detail but was only assigned this song so I shall refrain). The everything interlude playfully teases us with an orchestral instrumental that gradually crescendos, almost mimicking the waves that catalysed much of Kehlani’s writing. Towards the end of the album, the second last track to be specific, we are finally met with “everything”, a song that seems to align with the muted and reflective stance Kehlani takes in the second half of this body of work. It doesn’t rely on the typical electronic/R&B/Hip Hop hints that typically flavour her music. An almost folky guitar melody and powerful, yet soft orchestral seem to be all that support her airy, childlike vocals. The first verse is written with a softer, more drawn-out melody, but once we hit the second verse, Kehlani adopts the punchier, R&B cadence that we’ve come to know her for, as the passion in the lyrics seems to similarly hit their climax. She slips in and out of full voice and head voice, creating shades of light and dark that mirror the experience of being in love. I could go on, and I would, but I won’t. So all in all, I think it’s a beautiful piece that almost serves as a cool down from the high energy expended throughout the earlier half of this gorgeous album.


KILLING IT OFF – COTERIE

Sophie: This song has a very similar vibe to Lime Cordiale. I’d listen to this song on my way to the beach – it oozes summer vibes.

Christine: COTERIE lives up to their self-described ‘soul-rock/seaside-pop’ hybrid sound in their latest single, “Killing It Off”. Listeners are immediately introduced to a reggae-swing beat with melodically rich vocals sung by lead singer, Tyler Rawiri Fisher. The band is made up of four brothers from Perth and in this track, have harmonies that layer effortlesly to echo, “I got the moves to make her psycho”. As a fan of their vocal arrangments, I enjoyed COTERIE’s ability to also keep listeners on edge with dazzling electric guitar licks and driving drum beats that follow the track’s  rocksteady flourishes; leading to a soulful finish.

Kaela: Wasn’t super familiar with Coterie before hearing this song. Assuming this song is representative of their other tracks, I’d say that they are reminiscent of Ocean Alley – raspy, strong vocals and rugged instrumentals. In the case of this song, the instrumentals have a bouncy, reggae swing to them. The single transports you to a beachy setting: palm trees, and briny air; sunsets and wet tresses. Definitely a great summertime track…it’s a shame we’re approaching winter.


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