A couple of years ago you’d struggle to find anyone who’d heard of Swedish producer Tim Bergling, but then ‘Levels’ happened. Released under his Avicii moniker, the track ushered electronic music back towards the top of the charts and sparked a new craze for the genre across the world. The relentless pace of the 24 year old’s rise has continued into 2013, with both his Nicky Romero collaboration ‘I Could Be The One’ and ‘Wake Me Up’ reaching the top of the UK charts, and the latter serves as the first single for his debut album True, released this week.
‘Wake Me Up’ sets the tone for much of True, clearly showing the country and bluegrass influences and collaborators that played a part in making the album. The first 15 minutes of the album are dedicated to more tracks in this vein, but the drop in quality is clear. Blending house and country music is a brave move from Avicii, though many fans from his ‘Levels’-era releases will struggle with True.
Things do pick up with ‘Dear Boy’, a traditional progressive house track very similar, both in quality and musicality, to ‘I Could Be The One’ and, after the tedious filling of ‘Liar Liar’, a pair of Nile Rodgers collaborations appear. The second one of these, ‘Lay Me Down’, features American Idol winner Adam Lambert on vocals and, like Rodgers’ previous work with Chic and Daft Punk, it bursts into glorious funky disco. It’s my favourite track on the album, but it only narrowly edges ‘Hope There’s Someone’, which sits as the penultimate track. This cover of the 2005 song from Canadian band Antony & The Johnsons combines haunting vocals from Linnea Henriksson with a piano-driven house backing to (almost) draw the record to a close.
If any of your encounters with Avicii have been positive, True is definitely worth a listen, but you have to be prepared to dislike a fair chunk of it. Combining two contrasting genres is a difficult task for any musician, and True teaches us that kazoos, banjos and synthesisers can’t always live in perfect harmony.