Album Reviews | Avicii – True (2013)

Wake Me UpAs Avicii‘s smash single “Wake Me Up” swept the globe earlier this year, I was keyed into the song’s success by some Incubus fans who keep tabs on what all of the band members have been up to during the band’s most recent hiatus. As it turns out, “Wake Me Up” was written in Incubus guitarist Michael Einziger’s home in Malibu, with Mike lending his guitar services to the song, as well. Upon first listen, I wasn’t sure what to make of the song. Acoustic guitar and EDM? But as the song’s worldwide success began to trickle into America — the single eventually peaked at #4 in the US — and “Wake Me Up” became more and more inescapable, I have come around on it. It still isn’t one of my favorite songs of the year or anything, but it’s no longer the head scratcher it originally presented itself to be.

Random Access MemoriesIn other words, the song works. For Swedish DJ Avicii, blending house beats and acoustic instruments was a considerable gamble — he famously debuted his new ideas at Miami’s Ultra festival early in the year to a chorus of boos — that has paid off well. We are in a period of transition: Non-EDM artists are starting to incorporate more electronic elements into their sounds — that much is clear — but we are also starting to see EDM artists start to expand their templates to include acoustic instruments, as well. (Hell, Daft Punk basically ditched EDM for a live, acoustic sound earlier this year on Random Access Memories.) And that’s exciting. After years of watching the music industry splinter into a seemingly infinite amount of genres and sub-genres, the thought of these silos converging for once is more than a little comforting.

Hey BrotherWith “Wake Me Up” already a huge hit by summer’s end, Avicii quietly delivered his debut album True courtesy of Universal Music Group‘s Island Records. The album debuted at number five and fell down the charts quickly — strange behavior for an album with a Top Five single, but this could be the nature of EDM crossing over into the pop world, since DJs are inherently faceless. And it’s a shame too, since True is actually a good album. “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother” are quality single material — I have heard both songs countless times on the radio — and while a couple songs (“Dear Boy” and “Hope There’s Someone”) go on a little long, there are some strong cuts here like “You Make Me,” “Shame on Me,” “Lay Me Down” and the closer “Heart Upon My Sleeve” that make True more than worth the trip.

The long-awaited debut LP from Swedish EDM DJ Avicii doesn't disappoint; though some may be turned off by the marriage of acoustic and electronic sounds on True, Avicii manages to keep things light and the songs are stronger than they initially appear, continuing to resonate after several plays.
  • Breezily entertaining; great for parties
  • Interesting variety of sounds
  • Strong single material
  • Some might not buy the addition of acoustic instruments to the mix, viewing the fusion as shallow (a view that has some merit -- the songs are slightly stronger composition-wise than they are sonically)
  • Heavy dynamic range compression