Avicii's new album, 'True,' expands far beyond EDM's borders: Album review
On Avicii’s first full-length album, “True,” out today, he seems determined to show that while he may be best known as an EDM producer and DJ, trying to pigeonhole him into any one category will only prove foolish.
Following the success of such tracks as “Levels” and “Silhouettes,” Avicii vaulted to a new mainstream level with the success of “Wake Me Up,” the first single from “True.” In the U.S., the single, featuring soul singer/rapper Aloe Blacc on vocals and Incubus’s Mike Einziger on acoustic guitar, has climbed into the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, while it has gone No. 1 in 22 other countries. The song, which combines an acoustic guitar, folky melody with Blacc’s striking vocals, and Avicii’s beats sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does... beautifully.
But that’s only the beginning of Avicii’s experimentation into the country realm. On “Hey Brother,” Dan Tyminski of Alison Krauss and Union Station and “O Brother, Where Art Thou’ fame, provides the high lonesome voice on the bluegrass tune. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that Avicii will have the bluegrass EDM field all to himself, but he pulls it off.
With album closer “Heart Upon My Sleeve,” he drafts alternative rock band Imagine Dragons' lead singer Dan Reynolds for an emotional ending. And that’s what separates Avicii from many of his colleagues: he wants to make you move —every song here has a BPM of between 120 and 135—but he also wants to make you feel something and he’s brought in vocalists who can do the heavy lifting vocally.
Even though he’s only 24, Avicii has a confidence that go a far way to convincing us that he’s not just blindly feeling his way, he has absolute conviction in his choices. How else to explain his writing “Addicted To You” with Mac Davis. Yes, that Mac Davis from “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” fame and writer of Elvis Presley’s “In The Ghetto.” They pair for the mid-tempo tune of obsessive love, delivered with just the right amount of anguish by Audra Mae.
“Addicted To You” isn’t the only look back: on the shape-shifting “Liar Liar,” featuring Blondfire and Einziger, it sure sounds like Avicii employs a Farfisa, straight out of ?uestion Mark & The Mysterians’ “96 Tears.”
Many of the tracks are pure dance (or dance pop, like new single, the thumping “You Make Me,” featuring Salem Al Fakir on vocals), and Avicii has those down cold. Particularly striking is “Lay Me Down,” which features “American Idol’s” Adam Lambert’s searing powerhouse vocal on a funky track co-written by Chic’s Nile Rodgers. It’s is a dance and pop smash (and maybe because of Rodgers’ influence the intro may remind you of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” before it explodes into its own creation).
For purists, “True” may be too adventurous for their tastes —as Avicii found out after he got major push back from some fans following his debut of many of these songs at Miami’s Ultra Festival in March—but for the rest of us, Avicii has created an album that invites all of us to join in, even if we never step foot in a club.