Album Review: Swedish House Mafia 'Until Now'
By Steve Siegel
Yes, ladies and gentleman, our favorite Swedes are back! And although Steven Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell may be riding off into the sunset on their final tour, they are leaving their fans with one last parting gift: "Until Now," the follow up to 2010's wildly successful" Until One."
It's been a busy few years for the Swedes, and while 2010's "Until One" primarily served as a greatest hits collection for the threesome up until, quite literally, "One," the new disc predominantly features tracks released within the past two years. While "Until Now" still contains the two biggest hits from "Until One" ("One" & "Miami 2 Ibiza"), it also has a slew of new tracks. Furthermore, following the recent trend in EDM for mashup mania, there are no less than nine mashups on the mix CD, including several cuts with up to three tracks interspersed between them.
"Until Now" is structured almost identically to the group's closing mainstage sets at Ultra Music Festival and EDC, where the trio opted for quick transitions and a consistent supply of bangers to keep the audiences attention. Axwell and company may have cut their teeth on the underground circuit, but with tracks like their anthemic remix of Coldplay's “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” and their collaboration with Usher, "Euphoria," the Swedes are firmly in the pop culture spotlight now and the CD setlist reflects that.
The aforementioned "Euphoria" is a particular highlight for me. While most people are more familiar with the other SHM-Usher collab "Numb," the second drop on "Euphoria" might be the best fist-pump inducing :45 seconds of dance music composed in the past year. Another big track featured here is Angello's remix of Pendulum's "The Island." While not a new track by any means, its stripped down arrangement (especially compared to many of the songs on this release) allows the pure massiveness of its snarky, buzzing lead sound to penetrate through the mix, producing an unrelenting period of pure audio bliss.
The second half of the album is particularly strong, featuring several of the best dance music releases in the past year, including SHM's recent #1 U.K. single "Don't You Worry Child" and it's heavenly acoustic guitar breakdown. The mashup of Matisse & Sadko's rework of "Beating Of My Heart" includes the usual acapella of The Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition" for a maximum goose-bump inducing effect.
Moreover, Axwell's own production masterpiece, “Heart Is King,” is featured with a mashup of Knife Party's "Save The World" remix. "The Professor"—as Axwell is known in dance music circles for his impressive command of audio engineering—has been holding back on his debut album until his SHM days are over and this track sets the stage for what will undoubtedly be one of the most eagerly anticipated debut artist albums of 2013. I mean, how can it not be with this gem sitting in the wings.
When viewed together, "Until Now" and "Until On"e serve as nice bookends for America's first great commercial dance music phase. WhileUntil One served as an introduction to the group itself, "Until Now" can be seen as an introduction to modern dance music now. While many fans discovered the Swedish trio through their first release, hopefully this release will provide further introductions for great artists such as Arty, Matisse & Sadko, Mark Knight, and Third Party. One need only to look at the tracklist to see that Swedish House Mafia are going out on top and perhaps ushering in a new generation of dance music talent with it.
October 28, 2012 | Permalink