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Swedish House Mafia “Until Now”: Album Review

Polydor (2012)

Turning the often po-faced concept of the super-group on its head, Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell and Steve Angello have pushed the hedonistic boundaries of the EDM scene to its limits over the past two years under the guise of Swedish House Mafia.

But having admitted that they’ve reached the point where they didn’t know what their next move would be, the three superstar DJs are to call it a day following their final show in Los Angeles next month, hence the release of Until Now, a 22-track swansong that’s part mix-tape, part Greatest Hits and part studio album.

For the uninitiated, the party animal trio deal in monstrous grinding bass-lines, anthemic trancey synths and relentlessly pulsing four-to-the-floor beats, an approach to progressive house which has reaped its rewards amongst the same fratboy crowd that’s lapped up Skrillex’s similarly tour-de-force take on dubstep.

Subtlety may not be their strong point then, but it’s difficult not to get caught up in the dizzying head-rush of tracks like the Hans Zimmer-sampling Daft-Punk-esque electro of “Greyhound” or “Antidote,” a collaboration with Australian duo Knife Party which sounds like The Black Eyed Peas have been given an early 90s acid-house makeover.

They’re certainly not averse to more melodic fare either. “Save The World,” featured here in mash-ups with both Ferry Corsten’s “Punk” and Axwell’s “Heart Is King,” ventures into stadium rock territory with John Martin echoing his Coldplay namesake’s impassioned tones, as does the reflective trance-pop of final single “Don’t You Worry Child” (“these days are gone/now the memories are on the wall”). Meanwhile, Canadian R&B singer Deborah Cox gets to unleash her diva vocals on the summery Ibiza floorfiller of “Leave The World Behind.”

Suggesting that Swedish House Mafia are far greater than the sum of their parts, the solo contributions are lacklustre in comparison. Ryan Tedder’s emotive vocals are buried amongst a cheap and tinny wall of high-pitched video game bleeps on Ingrosso’s “Calling,” whilst Angello’s instrumental “Lights” is pure electro-house by numbers.

But with their solid remixes of Usher’s “Euphoria” and Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” and appearances of early hits “One” and “Miami 2 Ibiza” nestling alongside the trio’s own personal club favourites (Hard Rock Sofa’s “Here We Go,” Miike Snow’s “The Wave”), Until Now paints pretty much the whole picture of a band who unashamedly turned everything up to eleven.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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