Ranked No. 6 on the Top 100 DJs list by DJ Magazine as far back as 2011, and recently placed at the same position on Forbes’ annual DJ Rich List with an estimated fortune of $23 million, Swedish export Tim Bergling, aka Avicii, certainly can’t be accused of rushing his debut album, True.
Indeed, having scored a string of massive club anthems over the past five years, his first studio effort is almost more notable for what’s been left off its track-list than what’s actually on it. For example, there was apparently no room for his breakthrough chart hit “Seek Bromance,” nor the productions later sampled by Leona Lewis (“Penguin”) and Flo Rida (“Levels”). His recent UK number one, “I Could Be The One,” is also strangely absent.
Instead, Avicii has treated fans of his more melodic take on the EDM scene to twelve brand new compositions, the majority of which confirm that the 23-year-old is a much more boundary-pushing proposition than the rest of the superstar DJ brigade.
Opening track, “Wake Me Up,” a slightly bizarre fusion of foot-stomping hillbilly folk, Europop and soulful vocals courtesy of Aloe Blacc, will already be familiar to most, as it’s currently nestled inside the US Top 10. But there are several other unlikely collaborations elsewhere.
“Heart Upon My Sleeve” combines the fist-pumping vocals of Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds with the kind of stabbed strings you’d expect from a classic slasher movie to produce the best horror-house crossover since Brainbug’s “Nightmare.” The Nile Rodgers revival continues on “Shame On Me,” although the Chic legend’s signature funky guitar licks are abandoned in favour of Charleston beats, vocodered jazz-pop melodies and a bassline which recalls Yello’s “The Race.”
Even when True veers into more four-to-the-floor territory, such as on the breathy Balearic house of “Liar Liar” and the shimmering trance-pop of “Hope There’s Someone,” it manages to avoid the usual bombastic clichés favoured by the likes of Guetta, Harris, et al.
And although Avicii’s eclectic streak and rotating list of guest stars make True feel more like a compilation album than a cohesive studio effort, it’s also that rare beast – an EDM record which doesn’t suck the soul out of dance music.