Norwegian producer Kygo has accrued more than a billion streams on Spotify ahead of his debut LP, partly via irresistible banger Firestone – the urtext for tropical house. This success has secured a lobotomised brains trust of neo-MOR singers, weaving grimly competent songwriting through Kygo’s catchy backings, where flutes and pianos form neatly resolving ringtones. Tom Odell gives Fiction some bright falsetto, but is torpedoed by a ghastly honky-tonk melody ripped from Avicii’s playbook; John Legend should be ashamed of Happy Birthday, which sounds like it was commissioned for the sweet 16 of a kleptocrat’s daughter. And with Foxes finding herself sinking in quicksand and lost in a desert, the lyrics are as earnest and emotionally inarticulate as a 19-year-old on Tinder. Well, this is pop, where cliche can be transcendent, but these joyless songs are chemically castrated of any passion or sexuality. It falls to – ahem – Kodaline to conjure the keenest feeling, on the laughably titled Raging.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas is music editor of the Guardian