Every once in a while, people should look back at some of the music and see how it holds up after its initial release. This week, I felt that the world should grab a glimpse of an album that had plenty of hype, but slipped narrowly under the radar of the general public when it finally came out. Take a look back at not only the album, but the artist who slaved away bringing to life a new chapter to his career.
Some musicians in electronic dance music have been working hard for the last three to five years. Then you have an artist like Linus Eklow who has been making music since 2003 and still pumping track after track. Hailing all the way from Stockholm, Sweden, Linus has been dabbling with music since the age of fourteen with drum and bass, trip hop, and downtempo. As Style Of Eye, Linus has released tons of music starting with releases on the label Classic, adding his Swedish style to the Chicago house scene. In 2008, he delivered his debut album Duck, Cover And Hold with many great singles such as “Girls” and “The Prophet”. After the album, he had several releases on labels Dirtybird, Pickadoll, Refune, Mad Decent, Fool’s Gold Records, OWSLA, Wall Recordings, and many more. Recently, Linus has joined forces with Christian “Bloodshy” Karlsson of Miike Snow and crafted the progressive house duo Galantis. He has also remixed a wide array of songs from artists like Swedish House Mafia, Zedd, Usher, John Martin, Tommy Trash, Adrian Lux, Mayka, and many more while collaborating with artists like Crookers, Gina Turner, and Magnus the Magnus on spectacular tunes.
With all these different projects and works, how did Style Of Eye have time to make an album? It turns out that Linus has been working on his sophomore album Footprints since the start of last year. Since then, he has released several singles including “Louder”, “Kids”, “The Game”, “Love Looks”, and “After Dark”. Some of these songs have even been treated with special remixes from the likes of Laidback Luke, Hard Rock Sofa, Botnek, Nom De Strip, TV Noise, Ape Drums, Maarcos, and Digital Lab to name a few. But when it comes to the album, Linus presents over a year’s worth of work in just under an hour teaming up with many talented vocalists and producers. Footprints also shows the milestone of how Linus’ sound has developed since his first album six years ago.
1.) Louder (feat. Sirena)
The album’s first song is Linus’ ecstatic and energetic selection “Louder”. It features the vocal talent of Stockholm’s Icona Pop-esque Sirena. Her lyrics complement the loose and vibrant sensation provided by the electric-bounce rhythm. Listening to this song gives those entering the album the same feeling that a child encounters when they step into a bounce-house for the first time. Even though this song saw a release in the fall season, it emits a summer warmth that sets the dance-party tone for the entire album and sets a high standard.
2.) Like You (feat. Manotett & Sourz)
This song is the first and only full length track with an intro and an outro in Footprints. Originally, this song was a remix for Manotett’s song “Felt Like You” featuring Style Of Eye along with Sourz. Since the productions (minus the vocals) are from Mr. Linus, why not add this head-banging tune into the album tracklisting? With all that in mind, “Like You” is one of this album’s most fulfilling gems. This electro house weapon is a fantastic counterpart to track #1 in that it maintains the same bounciness of the former while striking with supporting hi-hats, sharp plucks, and a fat kick. The vocals tell a completely lucid story while the production sets up a tension that makes this a bombastic piece.
3.) Sweetest Heartache (with Asalto and feat. Michel Zitron)
The next track of Footprints starts off with warm guitar and takes a spin towards progressive house. In collaboration with underground producer Asalto and featuring the vocals of Michel Zitron, “Sweetest Heartache” is a hurricane of emotion and melody riding on 128 bpm. My favorite sound of this song is Michel’s singing that holds marvelous lyrics and shares excellent talent. The singing pours right into what I can only describe as a flurry of uplifting joy through scattered notes that create a rhythm of its own. I’m surprised that this song was not one a single before the album came out. It has so many elements engineered to make it much bigger than it ended up becoming.
4.) Love Looks (with Lars Allertz)
One of the singles to drop before the album, “Love Looks” is another shining piece of progressive house that is both catchy and beautiful. Unlike the other tracks before it, the vocals of this tune are similar to material from Linus’ work in Galantis. The way the voice is warped to be so deep and dark while being inspirational and lighthearted simultaneously gives this song its very own characteristic different from the rest of the album. This is the kind of song I can imagine confetti cannons firing off as the drop plays to massive crowds of young adults at music festivals everywhere.
5.) Here With Me (feat. Laleh)
The fifth song is a fusion of progressive house builds and electro house drops. Although this song starts with the very chill vocals of Laleh and tranquil guitar strums, “Here With Me” elevates the sound with piercing synthetic notes that electrify the mood in the most unexpected way. The drop is rambunctious and explosive while falling well in line with a guiding melodic force. This is one of the few tracks I would love to hear an acoustic, downtempo rendition of with emphasis on Laleh’s graceful singing. It may never happen, but a man can dream.
6.) Kids (feat. Soso)
The second single of the album has been around since the end of last year and continues to be one of Style Of Eye’s most innovative tracks of all time. Along with the assistance of Swedish pop-singer Soso, “Kids” holds complex chord progression, perfectly orchestrated breakdowns, and excellently executed combination with extensive lyrical content. Although Soso’s singing may be hard to understand at first listen, her lyrics grow diverse as the beat plays with her voice. This song is placed perfectly in the album’s tracklisting as a cohesive tune to bridge the halves of Footprints while standing flawlessly tall alone when heard by itself. Regardless of where this song is heard, “Kids” is undoubtedly one of the most creative songs Style Of Eye has given to the world. I am just glad that he released way before the album dropped.
7.) Take Your Time (feat. Anna Ståhl)
The next half of the album starts with “Take Your Time” and is joined with singer Anna Ståhl. In this song, Anna overpowers the music with her mysteriously soothing voice as a means to give this song it’s tentative start. In this song, she sounds like a dark-room jazz singer creeping into your ears in the most seductive manner that peaks listeners like myself to continue listening intently to see where this song will take me. It becomes quickly evident that the focus of this song will be piano melodies, but Style Of Eye takes his time to set up a marvelous use of chords and beats. Synths create an atmosphere around the jabbing piano keys that complete another solid tune to Footprints.
8.) Footprints (feat. Svidden)
Eight songs in and we’re finally at the title track of the album. The song “Footprints” features the warped-vocals of Linus’ Galantis-styled songs and features the name of Swedish producer Svidden (who helped produce much of the album with Linus). From the first moment you hear the vocals, you can tell that this song is going to sound Galantis-like such as songs “You” and “Smile”. Unlike “Love Looks”, however, this song messes with the vocals to sound like there are both male and female vocals complementing each other with their altered singing. With sharp, quick synths combined with a vibrating bassline, “Footprints” is a summary of the ideal dance music album Style Of Eye was aiming for.
9.) The Game (feat. Sal)
With only four more tracks to go, “Footprints” has shaped up to be an interesting journey of house music. However, the next song on the roster takes the darkest angle of the whole album. Known as “The Game” and featuring Sal, the ninth song is another shot of electro house from Style Of Eye. However, “The Game” starts with a robotic voice that flips into an energetic overdrive of beaming synths and low-end growls. This is not the premiere main stage anthem, but it does hold up an electric current flowing with vigorous cadence. With “The Game”, listeners are meant to hear this song blasting on their stereo systems to catch the bass and its raw approach to the album.
10.) After Dark (with Tom Staar)
Originally released on Afrojack’s label Wall Recordings, “After Dark” was one of the greatest collaborations of 2013 and continues to be an amazing piece of music. With the outstanding vocals of an unknown artist and one of the most memorable melodies, this collaboration with Tom Staar is the crown of the album. I’m surprised to see this song in this album not because it fails to flow with the rest of it, but because of how much I have listened to this song before the album came out. In my opinion, this song should be rated between nine to ten out of ten stars just from its excellent hook, drops, and everything in between. This is such a spectacular track that it didn’t need to be on the album to prove how influential this song is. Nevertheless, the inclusion of “After Dark” serves fittingly with the album overall.
11.) We Will Never Die (feat. Grizzly)
When I said earlier that this album may not be cohesive, I do not want you to confuse that for lack of structure. With “We Will Never Die”, Linus proves not only that his album has A-grade music, but that it is set up in a way that listeners don’t need to know what song they are listening to in order to understand what is the beginning, what is the middle, and what is the end. In other words, this song presents to listeners a final flare of Style Of Eye’s raw musical prowess. This song is another piano-heavy drop infused with Grizzly’s harmonic singing that perfectly wraps up this album’s desire to get listeners to stand up and dance.
12.) Love Looks (Revisited) (with Lars Allertz)
Although “We Will Never Die” is the last song to keep the energy as high as the album could have, this album needs a proper conclusion. In a warm and down-tempo manner, “Love Looks (Revisited)” is a calming descent from the roller coaster ride these twelve songs have been. The “revisited” rendition of “Love Looks” offers solace for the listeners who truly experienced the album the way I imagine Style Of Eye aimed for. This album doesn’t tell a complex narrative, nor breaks the norms of most electronic genres. Whether listeners nod their heads to the beat or jump around their living rooms, Footprints is a humble dance album that requires its audience to move in some sort of way.
Twelve songs later and listeners have traversed through Footprints (while dancing, possibly). Although this album does have a variety of interesting tracks, the album feels more like a collection of singles rather than a cohesive piece. Other than the first three and last three songs, the entire middle of the album does not mix in a way that astonishes me. Regardless, it blends in a way that can still leave listeners satisfied. Linus meets an impressive feat completing his second album where artists more well known than him have yet to put out one. We can only be left wondering if the world will ever see a third Style Of Eye album to come from the success of this one. I like to hope so.