It’s not easy making music everyone can enjoy. Crossover appeal has become increasingly harder to come by as listeners dig deeper into their own separate niches. Yet Kaytranada’s debut record, 99.9%, has a seemingly effortless universal pull. It is, like Tame Impala’s Currents, Daft Punk’s RAM, or Classixx’s Hanging Gardens before it, the perfect summer album.
What makes a perfect summer album? Well for starters, it has to be something you listen to on the regular over that three month period, and something that is tied to the memories made during that time, whether it be car rides, friend hangs, or solo walks through the city. Many of the tracks on 99.9% that seem to capture this eternal glimmer are the Montreal producer’s instrumental-heavy or solo offerings. “Bus Ride”, with Detroit’s Karriem Riggs and Toronto’s River Tiber, plays like a sunset soaked memory you want to have on repeat. “Weight Off” with modern jazz experimentalists BADBADNOTGOOD gives a similarly timeless sense of scenic movement with its casual bassline push. “Despite the Weather” is less commute and more sidewalk stroll but equally rooted in Kay’s vinyl-digging soul signature. And “Lite Spots”, one of 99.9%’s strongest singles, cuts a vocal sample into a memorable bouncy lead.
The perfect summer album should also blend the sounds of the past with what we can expect to hear in the future; a sort of mid-year report that gives us a taste of the current era’s soundtrack while offering glimpses of the artists and sounds that will be fully taking off in the coming months. Stylistically at this point in 2016, dance and hip hop are the kings of the music world, and Kay has found a way of blending the two gracefully over the course of 99.9%‘s 15-track journey. In terms of talent, the featured artists on this album, acts like GoldLink, Vic Mensa, and Anderson .Paak, are all starting to really hit their stride right now. “Full power until we reach the maximum,” raps a confident .Paak in “Glowed Up”.
Lastly, the perfect summer album should have at least a little bit of romance, and 99.9% has a lot. Settled in cozily between the album’s more introspective and solitary head spaces are plenty moments of shared intimacy. Craig David croons an adorable tale of luxury in “Got It Good”, AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis sings endearing lines about how “we don’t have to fight anymore” in “Together”, and Syd coos about how she “just can’t say no to you” in “You’re the One”.
Overall the album is brimming with music fit for this season, from its warm panoramic travel sequences to its more private under-the-covers affection. We’re currently in the midst of making memories that will stay with us for years to come, and if you’re tuned into the frequencies of Kay’s debut full length, those memories will have a killer soundtrack alongside them. Welcome to the sounds of summer, courtesy of Kaytranada.
Words: Fan Fiction