Swedish House Mafia ‘Until Now’ Review
There are a couple of ways to look at Swedish House Mafia.
You can call them three well-seasoned DJs, who, when they come together have enough star power to light up all of downtown Manhattan during the next hurricane.
Or you can look at them as three progressive DJs who, when they come together, create a triton of accessibility and a storm of excitement that brings the underground above to the masses.
The first theory has Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso as a team that became one of the most beloved DJ acts of all time. The other school of thought makes them seem almost like sell outs that when apart, are able to challenge and move EDM forward, both through their own tracks and those released on their three labels.
Either way, the trio can sell out one night at Madison Square Garden and two at the Barclay’s Center in minutes. They can host a 10-hour dance party in Miami that competes with Ultra. They can release a second album with 22 songs, say it will be their last, and nobody bats an eyelash.
Earlier this year, the group announced plans to break up after a world-round goodbye tour (aptly named One Last Tour). But first, they would release Until Now.
The album is a doorstopper-sized novel. It’s a last chance. It’s a helluva rockin’ farewell party.
Considering how busy the guys have been since Until One’s release, Until Now could have come out as the Swedes’ favorite solo tracks. But they delivered a unifying track list that highlights the best of their labels’ catalogues. The tracks showcase some of EDM’s most popular vocals like Erik Hecht, John Martin, and Mark Knight.
The tripod’s success lies in being approachable. The beats are catchy, not intrusive. The lyrics are easy to recall, but not too memorable. There are some well-known voices — Florence Welch, Usher and Coldplay’s Chris Martin — and the not so obvious ones are welcomed.
At last year’s sold out Madison Square Garden show, they opened with “Greyhound.” Here, the track is still number one and starts the album with an ominous chill. This is Swedish House Mafia’s last leg of the race.
A handful of singles as a group pop up: “Antidote,” “Greyhound,” “In My Mind,” “Reload,” and “Calling” have been staples at festivals for months. Hearing them all on the same album makes you feel like Until Now is a Best Of album, even though the Mafia has only released two official LPs, and a handful of singles.
“Three Triangles/ Trio/ Teenage Crime” features a few of Axwell, Angello, and Ingrosso’s prodigies. Adrian Lux, Hardwell, Arty, Matisse, and Sadko join this track and offer proof of the success in the three solo labels. The track is a partnership between the labels and offers a snapshot of talent to look out for.
The gems lie in the almost-hidden tracks that comprise the album’s numerous bootlegs. “Heart is King/ Save the World (Knife Party Remix)” seers. It’s uplifting and with hints of trance. It’s a gateway drug into the darker side of EDM, the side largely abandoned at SHM shows, where it’s the drop — not the heart — that’s king. It’s a track that winks at what’s to come from the guys’ solo careers. But as quickly as you hear that spark, it’s gone.
The monster truck track list ends with “Save the World/ Punk (Arty Rock-n-Rolla Mix).” This is an encore. It’s a thank you, and a see you later to fans they know will follow them across the world for One Last Tour, and to the solo shows that will cater to more hardcore fans.
Whether you’re in camp one (best goddamn electronic act on the planet, man) or camp two (sell outs when together, perfect on their own), Until Now is an excellent album.
It’s a compilation of an unbelievable ascension to music royalty.
Purchase on iTunes.
Written By: Jessica Goodman