October 24, 2012

Test Spins: Swedish House Mafia, Until Now

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If you are a fan of electronic dance music (EDM), you have undoubtedly heard that the electronic music trio known as Swedish House Mafia (SHM) is disbanding, and are about to embark on One Last Tour. Even if you don’t know them by name, if you’ve been to any college party or club in the past year, you know them by rhythm. In 2010, the band released their first studio album Until One, containing their hit single “One.” They followed up this success with the release of “Save the World” featuring John Martin in 2011, and concluded their saga of being the faces of mainstream progressive house with the release of their final album Until Now.

Conceived as the soundtrack to their final tour, Until Now is composed of several tracks produced exclusively by the band’s three members: Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axel Hedfors (Axwell). Kicking off the album is the group’s single, “Greyhound,” which starts off with hard hitting synths and kick drums, and ultimately culminates in a euphoric type drop. Distinct from many of their other productions, “Greyhound” isn’t a song you’ll be hearing over the radio anytime soon, but to those who view EDM as more than “just noise,” the track is something that can be appreciated.

Another track featured on the album that has become well established in SHM’s live sets is  “Antidote,” a collaboration the group did with the duo Knife Party, composed of Rob Swire and Gareth Mcgrillen. The song is a particularly hard-hitting electro house track with a distinguishing bass that, like “Greyhound,” is different from other SHM tracks. Beautiful in its uniqueness, the song reveals a darker side of SHM, and proves that more is indeed better when it comes to producing.

There are few vocalists whose voices go better with electronic music than that of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and SHM took full advantage of this in their remix of Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” High pitched synths coupled with a melodic dance beat and several energy inducing drops make the remix, one of the most upbeat songs on the album, nothing short of a true SHM masterpiece.

Perhaps one of the most hyped up singles on the album, prior to its release rumored to “make grown men cry,” is the song “Don’t You Worry Child,” with vocals provided by John Martin. Meant to be the group’s last single, a lot was riding on this track as it seems the trio did indeed mean for it to be a perfect goodbye. Sadly, I found the track wanting. Sure, as a mainstream progressive house production the song sounds great and can be easily enjoyed by new EDM listeners, but to a fan expecting so much from three of the best producers in the game, “Don’t You Worry Child” is an all too predictable song. The terrific vocals lead up to the obvious drop composed of synths tuned to the prominent rhythms; the song doesn’t echo in the minds of listeners like the SHM classic “Leave The World Behind.”

In addition to the singles, there are several songs, produced by individual members along with other artists, that are worth a listen. “In My Mind” by Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl, remixed by Axwell, is a song that premiered back in 2011 at SHM’s legendary performance at Madison Square Garden that I had the honor of attending. It’s been included in countless live sets by other producers, and rightfully so. This track is a true gem.

Steve Angello worked with the group Third Party to bring us the track “Lights,” a brand new release included in the album. Angello often has a harder hitting style in his own productions than the other two thirds of SHM, and it worked quite well with the style of Third Party. Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso also have “Calling (Lose My Mind),” their anthem-like collaboration with vocalist Ryan Tedder.

SHM will surely go down in dance music history, With Until Now, SHM shows us why they are a group that can sell out Madison Square Garden in seven minutes — twice. Love them or hate them they have indisputably been major players in the quest to make EDM mainstream. The reasons behind the group’s breakup may remain mysterious, but to quote Steve Angello, “We don’t like to repeat ourselves.” For now all we can do is hope that they will come back to save the world with their antidote.

Original Author: Peter Noback