In my 2010s listening experience— khai dreams has solidified himself as one of the founding fathers of the lofi genre.
His discography is filled to the brim with lofi hits including “Sunkissed”, “Lost in You”, and “Through and Through”. His musical presence, for better or for worse, ignited the worldwide phenomenon of soft voices, relaxed beats, and acoustic ukulele that is the lofi genre.
However, this blog is not about his lofi accomplishments, his newest album “ABSOLUTE HEARTBREAK” dropped Jan. 2023 and is diverging from his past sound with a mix of success and failures.
This album is undeniably a great step for khai dreams. He is finally breaking out of the restraints of one genre and is dipping into a new energy. “ABSOLUTE HEARTBREAK” is refreshing regardless of its faults. Khai dreams is breaking out of the soft-ukulele-lofi energy and is honing a matured, bold, and blended sound.
Every song on the album had good and bad elements.
Below is a breakdown of each track in the order presented in the album:
This song is a fun start to the album. It’s high energy and outlines some of the techniques heard throughout the tracks to come.
He has a melancholier approach to his vocal work, which is a nice contrast from the hopeful and loving tone used in his previous releases. This slight transition is a nice change and sets the stage for the bigger musical steps later on.
He is moving away from the lofi energy and moving towards something unique– this song is the departure.
This is one of the darker tracks and provides a little bit of a differnt tone to the album after “Bugs”.
The backing drums are nice but too simple. One gripe I have with this album is some of the backing tracks are too simple to the point they feel additive or excessive. This song is an example of that.
I enjoy the lyricism, but it doesn’t capture the listener due to the weak backing track. I enjoyed the use of different vocal tones in the bridges.
As seen in the next track, I sincerely hope khai dreams lets go of high-pitched vocal harmonies and turns to lower, darker alternatives heard in “Rats”.
I sincerely dislike the high vocals harmonizing throughout the entire track. This song would have been beautiful without that addition.
The addition of the high-pitched vocals turns otherwise elegant lyrics and clean background into something excessive.
When focusing on khai dream’s main vocals, his tone, emotion, and subtle lyrics have so much potential. The addition is trying to be light and fairy-like but just comes off as annoying.
I want to see more of this energy from khai dreams in the future. The vocals are slightly grungy which is very new in respect to his existing discography.
Looking at the background, the drums could have had more flare but I’m just happy they are as prominent as they are.
This track is one of my favorites off the album. Although the lyrics are weaker than other tracks off this album, this song is such an excellent blend of all of khai dream’s past work and moving towards the new.
Thematically, khai has really capitalized on songs about falling in love or being in a great relationship– this song finally breaks away from this unwavering theme and introduces the opposite end of the spectrum: self-doubt, mistrust, and heartbreak.
This song might have been more memorable if it was placed differently in the context of the album.
The low energy in this track really interrupts the overarching composition of the album. It doesn’t take any new steps and is a continuation of “Not Enough” by pushing a sadder theme into his discography.
This track is short and sweet. The sound it achieves is extremely reminiscent of work by fellow heart-broken artist Joji.
Released in 2021, this track is not new and does not provide anything compositional to the album. To be honest, it reminded me of a song written and produced by the Disney Channel. It’s high energy but isn’t bold– it’s generic khai dreams with a higher bpm.
This track saves the end of the album. It is confident, a little grungy, and does not sound like the average khai dreams track. It is refreshing.
This is a great example of what additional vocals can truly add to the overall song. The strained vocals in chorus amplifies the lyrics and provides a bolder energy to the song without sounding extra.
“Heartbreaker” truly holds the name of the album proudly. It is a great staple of the album— overall a nice blend of hurt and happy.
This final track is the acoustic version of a 2020 release. Although I think the original version is more successful, I don’t believe this track was intended to give anything new to the listeners.
It is simply a public reflection of what khai dreams used to be and what he is becoming. It’s a reflection of genre, the power of subtly, and the humble beginnings of khai dreams.
“I can’t be myself when everyone is needing me to change”– although written three years ago this line perfectly captures the message of this album and subtly highlights all that has changed in khai dream’s music and personal life.
Although I wish this album ended with more of a bold stroke, this is an anticipated acoustic transition by khai dreams and a sweet end to this melancholy album.