khai dreams' 'Now and Then' Is Idyllic, Intimate Indie Pop at Its Finest

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In the indie music scene, khai dreams is a name that continues to appear on playlists all over. With songs like "Lost in You" and "Through and Through," both garnering over 20 million streams on Spotify alone, khai dreams has quietly built himself a small empire in the idyllic indie music scene. His dreamy, melodic, and feel-great tracks have matured from lo-fi bedroom tracks to an infectious blend of surf rock, R&B, modern indie, and contemporary hip-hop influences.

In 2018, khai dreams released the collaborative project  Nice Colors, which showcased his ability to craft a full-length body of work where no two tracks were quite alike. Since then, khai dreams has remained relatively quiet, at least that was the case until the release of his new EP  Now and Then. This new project serves as a massive turning point for the quickly rising indie star, as he challenges his own personal growth as a musician, producer, and songwriter.  

Now and Then  features a total of seven tracks and amasses a run time of only 17 minutes, however, it is the brevity of the EP that makes it shine. Each track is able to stand on its own, with no track being overshadowed by another, letting each one stand on its own musical merit.  

The EP rollout was led by the release "Sunkissed," which ultimately serves as the intro to Now and Then. "Sunkissed" is the epitome of the innate musicality that has brought Khai Dreams to where he is today, a budding staple in the indie world. His ability to match a few shakers with a plucky guitar melody, various percussions, and undeniably sweet songwriting is just one facet of what makes khai dreams nearly impossible to dislike. The brightness in his voice matches the lyrics he puts to paper, as the refrain echoes, "You're so lovely, you're so lovely." Now and Then could not have opened in a better fashion.

Early in the EP, we arrive at its highlight, "Sandals." It is here that khai dreams plays into all of his standout strengths, delivering a surf rock track with a rhythmic guitar progression that makes it feel like summer is still in full swing. It is also here that the relatable and heartwarming songwriting khai dreams has perfected shines through. With simple yet standout lyrics he speaks on regret, change, and commitment. He echoes, "It's just a situation / Don't let it get between what we want or what we can be." The sense of endearment makes it feel as if khai dreams is singing directly to the listener.  

Later in the EP, khai dreams allows his ability as a producer and musician to take center stage. He maintains his roots as a ukelele-backed indie artist but continues to display his knack for featuring a vast range of elements throughout his idyllic musings. "Smokescreen," for instance, displays a new sound for the young songwriter, incorporating 808's and an ability to translate his lyrics contemporary melodic hip-hop track. khai dreams strays away from his typical infatuation and delves into a track touching on mixed emotions and mistakes in a spur of the moment connection.

The conclusion of the EP arrives in  "(She's Already) in My Head." The sound itself feels like a performance on the beach, as intimate as it is sentimental. khai dreams' gorgeous vocal harmonies to enhance the track, while retaining an overwhelming organic feel. As khai dreams echoes, "Don't you know that nothing lasts forever," we are left with the EP's final moment of closure.  

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