I’ll always have a soft spot for Kris Allen and his music. He just has that special something that makes him so lovable. Horizons is the latest studio album by Kris, released by his independent label DogBear Records. I’m a huge fan of Thank You Camellia, the album Kris released before his latest, and so I had high expectations going in to my first listen of Horizons.
Track #1 – ‘Young Love’ (“Paul Simon”)
Horizons opens with a simple and cheery tune. ‘Young Love’ is a nice song to have stuck in your head or listen to during the day, but it lacks an oomph. Kris’s vocals are passionate enough, but ‘Young Love’ is missing something I can’t quite put my finger on to give it that burning passion it needs to set it over the top.
Track #2 – ‘Prove It to You’ (feat. Lenachka)
‘Prove It to You’ opens with a cheesy seductive synth that reminds me of the buttons on keyboards that you can push and it will ‘play’ a song for you. Separately, Kris and Lenachka have nice voices, but when they come together the result is awkward, especially over the corny beat. It’s all like a lullaby, although unlike Kerli’s epic ‘Worlds Apart’ lullaby, ‘Prove it to You’ just puts you to sleep. As a fan of Kris’s, I know he’s capable of far better.
Track #3 – ‘Beautiful & Wild’
After a rocky start, Horizons gets on track with ‘Beautiful & Wild’, which opens strong and stays steady. Kris sings with passion, and smart lyrics like ‘I just wanna be a dreamer that’s wide awake/ I just wanna be a lover, even if my heart has to break’, make ‘Beautiful & Wild’ a standout track. It’s an honest song that doesn’t get too preachy, and that is the brilliance of it. The imagery created in the lyrics is strong, and it’s right up Kris’s alley. This is the kind of songs he was made to sing.
Track #4 – ‘In Time’
The fourth track on Horizons, ‘In Time’ stays in the indie-pop genre that Kris seems to be going towards with the album. While there’s nothing wrong with that, at times there’s a bit of a disconnect if you compare Horizons to Thank You Camellia, which had more production and swelling, playful beats. Kris doesn’t need a lot of production to showcase his beautiful voice, and ‘In Time’ is a perfect example of it. That said, it’s not his best, but it continues down the right road that ‘Beautiful & Wild’ started down.
Track #5 – ‘Lost’
Another simple song without much production, ‘Lost’ slows the album’s pace down even further. It just doesn’t seem very relatable, and perhaps falls under the category of being too vague and not preachy enough. The fifth of ten tracks, ‘Lost’ had me questioning whether Horizons would get any better.
Track #6 – ‘Don’t Set Me Free’
Once I begin to doubt Kris, he throws a good song on Horizons like ‘Don’t Set Me Free’. Like ‘Beautiful & Wild’, it has catchy lyrics that aren’t too preachy and are perfectly fun and romantic. If Kris could manage the balance of catchy lyrics and simple, effective production that he did on this track for the entire album, Horizons would have been 5 stars without a doubt.
Track #7 – ‘Everybody Just Wants to Dance’
A more airy, electronic beat kicks off ‘Everybody Just Wants to Dance’, and instantly you know it’s going to be a tune. As the title says, this track will make you want to dance. The track doesn’t compromise Kris’s new indie sound, but has the perfect amount of pop elements to make it memorable and one of the top tracks on the album. Allen’s voice sounds great, and as he sings the chorus it reminds you why you love him; he sings so effortlessly with a unique voice that is hard not to love.
It should be noted that this is one of two songs on Horizons that Kris Allen wrote entirely by himself, the other being the closing ‘Girl Across the Room’.
Track #8 – ‘Parachute’
‘Parachute’ begins with another cheesy keyboard beat, but thankfully it’s much better than ‘Prove it to You’. Once again, lyrics create strong visuals, and while at times it gets a bit overly romantic and mushy, ‘Parachute’ is probably a song you’d love to listen to with a special someone on Valentine’s Day or year round when you’re still in puppy love. The ultimate mushy love song has to be Allen’s ‘Rooftops’ from Thank You Camellia, though. ‘Parachute’ is a different song entirely, and it’s good – but ‘Rooftops’ probably takes the spot as my favorite song of Kris’s of all time.
Track #9 – ‘It’s Always You’
Horizons begins to wind down with ‘It’s Always You’, which is a bit of a shame because it feels like Kris was just getting into his stride with the promising tracks that precede ‘It’s Always You’. Another mushy love song, Kris sings the song skillfully, but it’s nothing special. This is also the longest song on the album, coming it at 4 minutes, and it’s noticeable. Much like the opening to Horizons, ‘It’s Always You’ seems to lack a passion that would have made it stand out.
Track #10 – ‘Girl Across the Room’
The second of two songs Kris Allen wrote by himself and the end of Horizons, ‘Girl Across the Room’ is a hit that makes me wonder what Horizons would have sounded like if Kris had written the entire album by himself. He’s obviously a very talented lyricist, and I have nothing against the rest of the writers that contributed to the album, but I do think that if Kris had taken more time refining the rest of the lyrics on Horizons by himself, perhaps the end result would have been like that magic that ‘Girl Across the Room’ and ‘Everybody Just Wants to Dance’ bring to the album.
‘Girl Across the Room’ is a nice song about unrequited love, and once again the balance of effective but simple production and memorable lyrics work to Allen’s favor. It’s just a shame the rest of the album didn’t follow in the same vein as its standout tracks.
Overall, Horizons is hit or miss with the top tracks like ‘Everybody Just Wants to Dance’ and ‘Beautiful & Wild’ showcasing Kris’s talents wonderfully, while others like ‘Prove it to You’ and ‘It’s Always You’ seem to fizzle and never really catch fire. Sonically, Horizons feels a degree or two of separation from previous album Thank You Camellia, and that might be why the tracks that don’t stand out seem to fall flat. It’s because they don’t sound like a completely new sound for Kris, but it was hard to live up to the production of Thank You Camellia by going to a more indie-pop sound after an album that was more strictly pop/pop rock.
If you’re a pop music fan, check out Thank You Camellia on iTunes. It is well worth a listen, even if you haven’t listened to Kris’s music much before. If you like indie music, or are a fan of Kris, be sure to check out Horizons on iTunes and give it a listen for yourself. The hits are good, and the rest of the tracks aren’t all that bad, even if they aren’t some of Kris’s best work.