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Tiesto “A Town Called Paradise” – Album Review

PM:AM (2014)

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.

2.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


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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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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