Kaytranada : Timeless

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Kaytranada Timeless review

Across his first two solo albums, a highly regarded collaboration with Aminé, and hundreds of legit and bootleg production credits, Montreal producer Kaytranada has managed to be both versatile and focused. In less than 15 years, his methods and sounds have crossed genres, borders and oceans to touch many sides of dance music, hip-hop and R&B. His third proper solo LP, Timeless, is also his largest release to date, 17 tracks plus four “bonus” ones based largely on rap and soul. There’s a bunch of stuff to like, but it feels for the first time like that versatility is a hindrance instead of a help.

The star power (Childish Gambino, PinkPantheress) and immediacy of the work seems to ramp up as we wade through the tracklist, meaning Timeless comes across as a heavily backloaded album. Clear highlights include the George Clinton-isms of “Weird,” the flanged vintage synth sounds of “Video,” and the lilting vulgarities of the Thundercat-powered “Wasted Words.” Kaytranada helps compose audible references to disco house and acid jazz, and his collaborators interpolate British pop royalty like Wham! (“Snap My Finger”) and Spice Girls (“Lover/Friend”). The only problem with this is that Kaytranada already made an album—his debut, 99.9%—drawing on a similar set of influences, only better and more consistently.

As music does, the guest vocalists here spend significant time and energy on the foibles of relationships: ones losing steam (“Still,” “Spit it Out’), ones with particular character sketches (“Video,” “Witchy”), ones that are purely horizontal (“Call U Up,” “Do 2 Me”). Kaytranada contributes his own vocals in “Stepped On”—”Mistake my kindness for weakness/I say ‘Yes, man,’ I’m helpless”—exploring his exhaustion in relationships that might range from the personal to the professional. Across theme, composition, and delivery, it feels like the big issue on Timeless is a flatness or sameness to the music. The stylistic moments that do jump off the background make the existence and amount of said background that much more frustrating.

Label: RCA

Year: 2024

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