It's hard to overcome the expectations that come to an artist as a result of a larger than life hit. Avicii’s inescapable “Le7els”; a massive pop breakthrough and undeniably the biggest EDM song to hit clubs, stages, and radios worldwide, certainly placed the bar high for his debut album True. The lesson revealed after listening to his LP: such high expectations cannot be met; they must be succeeded, and in order to do so Avicii had to do the unexpected.
While country influences in house are nothing new (see Bob Sinclair's 2007 Western Dream) the idea that an artist placed on house's highest pedestal would merge so deep into an opposite spectrum of sound, and release said merger of sound under the same alias is truly unheard of. Heads turned a 360° at the Ultra premiere of “Wake Me Up;” with full grassroots band in tow nonetheless! But while many are skeptical and unwilling to accept that their beloved Avicii would “go country” on them, True stands by its title and exceeds initial judgement. What was at first thought to be a genius gimmick by manager and credited co-producer Ash Pournouri to tap into the ever-booming country music market, turns out to be genius in and of itself.
The shrill kazoo incorporated on main stage, confetti blaster made tracks like “Dear Boy,” and “Shame on Me” sounds so out of place it raises goosebumps, yet feels so natural it spurs feet to dance joyously, with a grin from ear to ear.
Sultry, smooth, and soulful vocals on guilt-ridden jams “Liar Liar” “Addicted to You” and “Long Road to Hell” express passion and remorse in a way that might not have hit as hard had Pournuri arranged more typical, throwaway house vocalists.
But True doesn’t completely shy away from dance musics roots. A funky Nile Rodger’s collaboration on “Lay Me Down,” complete with diva-esque vocals compliments of Adam Lambert, puts listeners in a disco mood. Piano heavy “You Make Me” stands as a sort of indie electro jam that contends to be in the next Gap ad. Avicii even flexes his orchestral talents in the adventurous “Heart Upon My Sleeve” and epic “Edom”.
Skeptical EDM purists might be apprehensive to accept True at first, but all things considered, it's a polished pop record with hosts of influences that achieve it’s mainstream, feel-good sound. It relates to our hearts, repents for our sins, and ultimately invites us to party.