Two years ago, Avicii released his debut studio album True, which permeated radio airwaves endlessly. He followed the album up with a full LP of self-remixed productions (often referred to as VIPs, but in this case, ‘Avicii by Avicii’) before venturing into his next project, Stories. Fans that have found Avicii rocking the decks at stages worldwide this year have already been given a taste of the new album. Now, Bergling has let the cat out of the bag. The wait for Stories is over.
Fortunately, the wait was well worth it. The fourteen track long-play shines from end to end with only minor blunders to mention along the way. Avicii shows his maturity throughout Stories, daring to push further outside the boundaries of “EDM” than ever before. The diversity and dexterity of Bergling’s work brings the project full circle, resulting in an album that, while not groundbreaking, is undoubtedly an enjoyable, easy listen. Such is appropriate, as this is an exceedingly personal album for Bergling, each track representing a different “story” that landed him where he is today.
If you’re looking for some real electronic-focused Avicii tunes, he’s got them for you. “City Lights” stretches six-and-a-half minutes long, incorporating pleasant driven synths, heavenly vocals, and a standard, simple arrangement. Those that have been with Avicii since the very beginning will certainly feel a sense of nostalgia listening to the introduction of “True Believer,” a song on which Tim Bergling dares to sing the lead vocal on before Chris Martin steps in for some harmonic support.
But Avicii doesn’t stick to his nexus sound for the entirety of the album. The Swede took a note or two from the tropical house movement for the steel-drum filled “Gonna Love Ya,” and the trap influence on “Pure Grinding” is sure to raise a few eyebrows – or elbows – in the best of ways. Surprisingly, Avicii’s new hometown anthem “Somewhere in Stockholm” keeps the energy mild, while “Talk To Myself” similarly allows artistry to shine over the gentle Bergling production.
Avicii shifts the tempo down for a number of songs — some that work better than others. “Ten More Days” misses the mark with an exceedingly minimalistic mix and a sound that confuses refined production with under-production. On the other hand, “Touch Me,” which appears on the album in a different version than Avicii has been playing at performances, rocks a catchy vocal without an overwhelming accompanying “drop.” The shortest track on the album, “Trouble,” relies almost exclusively on an acoustic sound that is a welcome break from ten tracks of electronic dominance.
It’s no secret that Avicii’s album is absolutely star-studded. Martin Garrix pitched in for co-writing credits on “Waiting for Love,” the album’s most successful single yet. “Can’t Catch Me” is a Caribbean-themed song with none other than Wyclef Jean on the topline. Zac Brown takes control of the singing on “Broken Arrows,” a heavily country-influenced tune that appears to be the most likely follow-up to Avicii’s similarly stylized “Wake Me Up.” Avicii has done it before without the help of household names, but the album’s reinforced roster is nothing to complain about.
Ah, “Sunset Jesus.” Does this track sound familiar to you? That’s because the drop is, for all intents and purposes, a direct copy of the production underlying the “Dear Boy” Avicii by Avicii version. On one hand, there is no questioning that “Sunset Jesus” (named after LA’s famous Sunset Blvd Jesus character) works well as a song. Even for those familiar with the instrumental, Gavin DeGraw’s topline naturally clicks with the song. But the issue is still hard to excuse. Realistically, though, this fact will go unnoticed by the vast majority of listeners.
Front-to-back, Stories is enjoyable. If you approach Avicii’s latest project with intentions of finding an entirely new sound, ground-breaking sonic engineering, or any other trendy buzz words thrown around today to describe overtly refined music, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Listen to Stories for its catchiness. Listen to Stories for its approachable sound. Listen to Stories for fun. You’ll be glad you did.
Check out some more about Avicii while you’re at it.
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