REVIEW: Kllo - Well Worn

Kelly Kirwan

Kllo have cast a spell—an incantation comprised of twitchy beats, softly lush vocals, and a propelling snare-bass line to blanket your world in gentle pastels and slight disorientation. Their music feels like a cinematic effect of the early millennium, when a single person walks through a crowd as the only point of focus, the background a blur of sped up activity. You’re serene in a scenery that’s slightly disjointed, the snags and missed connections of their beats simply another element of their charm. The Melbourne duo, comprised of Simon Lam and Chloe Kaul, have been steadily casting their net over the indie electro-pop crowd since their debut EP, Cusp, came out in 2014. They’re two cousins with a taste for dreamy effects and a pull towards UK garage, letting their rhythms fall into the asymmetry of two-step. With festivals like Splendour in the Grass, Melbourne Music Week, and Bigsound under their belt, Kllo (formerly known as Klo) seem to have sunk their hooks in us good.

If the delicate traces of their melodies on Well Worn seem a bit familiar, you’re not far off. Simon Lam has spent time working independently as Nearly Oratorio, an act known for murmuring vocals and fragile notes, and this dainty quality is not lost in this family collaboration. When paired with Kaul, this lightness becomes lush, their music splintering into soul instead of a misty melancholy. Kaul's voice is beguiling, a mockingbird pitch with a deceptive weight that holds its own beside their beats, which crinkle and fold with the intricacy and understated beauty of a paper crane.

The song "Walls to Build" begins with the gliding strokes of a harpsichord-sounding synth, a gleam which elicits glossy eyes and afternoon reveries. It's dotted with sputtering percussion, adding a touch of grit to the otherwise shimmering backbeat. Kaul's voice floats, an intoxicatingly gentle soprano over poetic lyrics, "Silver pair in golden land / There's nowhere to go here / When it's forming angles that never existed / Too precious to leave here." Kaul blends the enunciation between these words, her lines coalescing in their lofty decibel. "Forward, it's all here / Forward it's all here," she repeats at the chorus, adding, "There's no walls to build here," stressing a certain fluidity that is the very Kllo aesthetic.

Then there's "Don't Be the One," which has quickly-stacked, skipping beats steering the track forward. It has a more pensive and somber tone than their previous songs, evoking the weight of a dark cloud, still adorned with a silver lining from Kaul's sweet but solemn singing (the notes she hits here give you a high-altitude chill). Kllo's music glistens, catches you in a trance, and leaves you feeling loose. You'll levitate, feel the the twitch in your muscles with every tic of their beat—an invitation to dance, or recede inwards into the imagined landscape of your choosing. Their sound is spellbinding, and Well Worn is a respite many of us, I'd imagine, will welcome.