KUMD Album Review: Kaleo

Oct 5, 2016

Kaleo | A/B

Icelandic-American quartet Kaleo first emerged onto the music scene in 2012 when they performed at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. From there, native radio stations started playing their Icelandic hit “Vor í Vaglaskógi” which gained them success overseas. However, the band achieved even more success in the U.S. with their single “All the Pretty Girls” when it was featured on Spotify in 2014.

The band peaked just recently with their release of A/B, an album focused on a combination of bluesy, folk melodies and soulful alternative rock. One of their singles off the bluesy, folk melodies and soulful alternative rock. One of their singles off the album “Way Down We Go” was featured in a trailer for the show Orange is the New Black. Since the album dropped, it’s received nothing but glowing reviews.

The album is so diverse in the way that from one song to the next you don’t know what to expect. From the cheerfully upbeat “Automobile” to the beautifully dark “I Can’t Go On Without You,” A/B is a perfect album for easy listening, a good jam session, or for a day to put your headphones in and ignore everyone.

The album opens with “No Good,” a song filled with heavy, deliberate guitar riffs, strong percussion, and intense vocals from the lead singer Jökull Júlíusson (JJ). This is the type of song you’ll want to crank up in your car and sing at the top of your lungs. From there leads into “Way Down We Go” the most well-known track off the album. It’s a strange but pleasing mixture of dark, mellow lyrics with a semi-upbeat melody to go along with it.
A personal favorite on the album is the only song featured in Kaleo’s native Icelandic language. “Vor í Vaglaskógi” is a series of strong, yet lulling guitar mixed with JJ’s soulful voice crooning in Icelandic makes for a miraculous track so beautiful it grips you at the core. Whether you’re looking for an album to cry yourself to sleep, or a solo jam session in the car, A/B is emotionally versatile enough to cater to whichever mood you’re feeling.