Dutch trance legend Tiesto has been crowned the winner of DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll three times, has a three-club residency in Las Vegas and topped Forbes’ 2013 DJ Rich List–and yet, up until this year, he still hadn’t scored a major crossover single. However, the 45-year-old now appears to have decided that he wants a piece of the chart action, too, and on his fifth studio effort, A Town Called Paradise (sixth if you count the 2011 LP he recorded under the Allure alias), he’s gone straight for the ultra-commercial pop jugular.
You perhaps can’t blame Tiesto for growing tired of watching all his peers become massive mainstream stars, but it’s disappointing that despite an eclectic roll-call of guest artists, his attempt to follow in their footsteps has resulted in the kind of repetitive and generic hands-in-the-air record that you feel like you’ve heard a million times before.
The usually intriguing New Zealand chanteuse Ladyhawke is rendered indistinguishable from any other rent-a-vocalist on the juddering electro of “Last Train.” Canadian-Peruvian newcomer Quilla’s breathy ethereal tones are similarly wasted on the formulaic prog-house of “Close To Me,” while Icona Pop do little to dispel their one-hit wonder reputation with “Let’s Go,” another bratty sugar rush of EDM pop all too reminiscent of their globe-conquering number one.
The latter duo’s appearance isn’t the only Swedish influence on A Town Called Paradise. Opener “Red Lights” is co-penned by powerhouse hitmakers Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub, which perhaps explains why it sounds like a leftover from the last The Wanted album. Stockholm singer-songwriter Andreas Moe lends a hand on “Echoes,” one of the few tracks to deviate from the Guetta-esque template with its scuzzy industrial bass-line and speaker-blasting drops. And “Rocky,” the album’s only instrumental, appears to borrow the cheesy synth riff from Europe’s hair metal classic “The Final Countdown.”
“Shimmer,” a string-soaked affair featuring an impressive soaring falsetto vocal from former BBMak pin-up Christian Burns, is much more encouraging, as is “Wasted,” an Avicii-esque folksy-electro hybrid fronted by the androgynous tones of Matthew Koma. However, such standout moments are few and far between.
In fact, A Town Called Paradise is only really remarkable for how utterly unremarkable it is. There’s nothing wrong with Tiesto chasing hits, but by playing it so safe, the one-time pioneer now instead sounds like a man desperately trying to play catch up.
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