Nearly a year has ticked by since we last heard from Taylor Harrison and Xander Rawlins, aka tropical pop duo LAIKIPIA. But don’t think for a second those two were resting on the laurels of their past success. Over the previous 365, these two have toured like madmen, gracing stages all over and spent countless hours in the studio, working on new tunes. And now, here today, we get the chance to showcase their latest effort, their brand new EP, Heartbeats & Echoes.
At only three tracks, Heartbeats is short but oh so sweet. Xander and Taylor have clearly put in the work on this one as Heartbeats comes off as much more polished and put together than their previous releases. What’s more, LAIKIPIA have begun to experiment with their sound.
For those out their who were fans of LAIKIPIA’s tropical take on the genre of pop, fear not, there’s plenty of sonic sunshine and palm trees on their latest. But, this time around they’ve simplified the instrumentation, subtracted the unnecessary and gone for a more guitar forward approach.
Take the opener, “You Are My Life” as an example of their growth. The track begins with a simple guitar riff and not much else before Rawlins waltzes onto the scene with his lush and booming vocals. Whereas the old LAIKIPIA might have rushed in with synths or crowded production, the new LAIKIPIA is keen to let the track build nice and slow. Even as things come to a crescendo, “You Are My Life” never feels overwhelming. It comes across as warm and pleasant, a tropical breeze gliding across a peaceful beach.
The second track, “Stay” takes this formula and injects a bit more pop into the mix. Again, the track starts with just Xander and a guitar, but things build quicker and lead to a volcanic eruption of subtle layers and island drums. This track is probably the best representation of the overall progress these two have made as a group. “Stay” is light on its feet but remarkably dense and detailed when you drill down through every layer.
Finally, LAIKIPIA close things up with “Hurricane.” “Hurricane” is the outlier among the three songs, ditching the guitar for synths and coming across with a darker tone. While not as enjoyable as the first two, it’s an excellent example of LAIKIPIA’s range. Tropic pop is the starting point for these guys, but by no means is it the final destination.
Overall, Heartbeats & Echoes is an enjoyable escape of an EP that will quickly have your head bouncing along to some warm island beats. Word on the beach is these two are gearing up for more music and more wacky videos so for all you fans out there, give Heartbeats & Echoes a listen and keep it locked on EARMILK until the new stuff rolls in.