You’d be forgiven for thinking we are only just coming down after suffering from ‘Avicii fever’.
You know the story by now. Avicii, after taking to the stage in Miami, p*ssed off so many internet trolls after revealing his new sound that it really did seem like it was all over. Then, suddenly You Make Me was everywhere. Hey Brother and Addicted to You was everywhere. Wake Me Up became one the best selling singles in recent memory. Even now we still can’t get enough of Avicii, as we were all very keen to check out his new digs.
It’s been almost half a year since the release of Avicii’s debut True. Thankfully, the album had much more to offer than a few smash singles. Liar Liar, Shame On Me and the fans’ rightful favourite Dear Boy were superb testaments to Bergling’s attention to genres and melodies.
So here we are with the obligatory remix album. Obviously, it hasn’t been as hotly anticipated as the debut but we still have been looking forward to see what the Swede superstar has in store for us. So, what’s it like?
The track list remains the same, so Avicii starts with Wake Me Up. The original barn-dance, EDM hybrid may have won the world over but this time we are treated to a thudding kick drum and the usual, plucky synth house keys. Avicii’s intentions are clear, it’s the dance-floor he wants to dominate this time. Aloe’s vocals soon give way to a syncopated, house reworking of the original hook that truly sounds great. But it appears that Bergling can’t help himself, for a guitar solo soon kicks off. It feels hemmed in and unnecessary, in what should be a great club track. The solo certainly doesn’t compare to the likes of Digital Love for instance; basically, the remix would be better without it.
You Make Me was a personal favourite of mine. The aggressive piano and blistering electro lead sounded great with Salem Al Fakir’s vocals, the likes of which Journey or Boston would be happy to lay claim to. For the track sounded like a bizarre 1980s Stadium Rock/EDM hybrid and therefore, I loved it. The remix is still a paltry 3 minutes, which I imagine isn’t great for mixing or the dance floor. However, it now packs a very energetic chiptune/guitar solo that gives the track that extra punch.
Hey Brother is one of the best remixes the album. It starts off relatively similar to the original; the cutesy country vocals have been pitched up, the acoustic guitar still strums and whines away. However, a surefire bass line quickly kicks in and all hints of its country bluegrass roots disappears. Plus that ridiculous, cheesy brass section is now, thankfully gone.
Dear Boy could be considered a fan favourite and this time around, history may repeat itself. Although Karen Marie Ørsted’s beautiful vocals may have been undermined with the new pitching, the track still remains as hair-raisingly good. The bluesy Kanye West’s Homecoming style piano sounds great among the variety of new synths Bergling deploys here and it’s just euphorically infectious. It’s true, Avicii has one of the best ears for melodies in dance music. This new remix will grow on you, as they say.
Liar Liar is pretty formulaic as far as club music goes, but it works. The House of the Rising Sun style organ is gone and replaced with the usual Avicii dance magic. If you wanted a club-friendly, big room sound from this track then you won’t be disappointed.
Shame On Me is definitely the most interesting remix on the album. It may come under an unimpressive 4 minutes but it arrives as a welcome and innovative break from the house music. Because, weirdly, Avicii has opted for a trap/breakbeat sound here. The syncopated beat is complimented by chopped up vocals and funky bass line, but however, the old-timey coolness of the original is no more. The funky reworking now means it is nowhere near as catchy as the original and all traces of Nile Rodgers is hard to find. It’s still pretty fantastic, but this problem with the compromise of the original now takes me to Lay Me Down.
This is by far the most disappointing track on the album. The predatory bass line and Rodgers’s funky guitar sheen made it one of my favourites, but these qualities are nowhere to be found here in the remix. Certainly, I understand the point of a remix, but there should be no need to compromise everything that made the original great. Perhaps the fans will enjoy Avicii’s signature big room sound in this track more than I do.
So. Avicii by Avicii is nowhere as ambitious as his debut… but then again it is. He has completely reworked and flipped his music, creating something decent that may not redefine the club landscape as much as the original did to the pop landscape.
It’s hard to decide which is better and it’s a good case of ‘chalk and cheese’. Fans of the original may miss Avicii’s ingenuity and masterful blistering use of many different genres. But most of you will now be pleased with the classic formula of euphoric house and big-room sounds, which Avicii is so skilled at creating.
For the original may have been a bit more ‘stadium rock/country/disco’ pop than EDM for your liking, but now we almost certainly have a dance album. That much is true.