We always like to be pleasantly surprised by the mainstream.
Alesso’s career as a DJ/producer blossomed in the same general time frame as the worldwide explosion of EDM culture itself; by the time the movement had broken through to the mainstream his name was a ubiquitous part of the scene. We recently showed you the metamorphosis that his style has undergone over the past five years, and his new album, Forever, stand as evidence that he isn’t done evolving as an artist.
Big room house has almost become a dirty word in recent years. As the umpteenth “Animals” clone demands an audience of thousands to jump up and down every time it ricochets around the festival circuit, dance music’s youngest generation of fans reaches an age at which they’d really rather just dance – and as a result, hard kicks and bass drops have become passé by most music fans’ standards. While an artist seeking to stay ahead of the curve might shamelessly take up future house, Alesso’s done the exact opposite. He’s taken the testosterone of big room house to a new height, managing to make it new and exciting again in the process.
Don’t get us wrong, the entire album isn’t like that. Songs like “Sweet Escape” and “Heroes” feature the hallmarks of his more memorable releases: melodic synth leads, infectious vocals and invigorating bass drops. However, the two tracks that start the album almost sound like a hard rock band’s opening – but if it was performed with synthesizers instead of more traditional instruments.
The first, “Profondo,” is little more than arbitrary chords and effects, as though a futuristic band tuned their instruments for a performance (incidentally, he opened his Ultra Music Festival 2015 set with it). It leads into “PAYDAY,” an adrenaline-fueled big room track that brims with more aggression than most EDM, and as a result, works quite well.
“Tear The Roof Up” stands out as another example of this sound. The dark imagery of its music video made headlines at the time of its release, and further reinforces our claim that Alesso kind of makes rock music. It makes sense, after all; he often cites groups like Coldplay among his major influences and has likened the popularity of the EDM sound to that of the electric guitar, so it’s not a stretch to assert that his creative mental space could yield such a style.
However, from the fifth track on the album consists mostly of formulaic progressive house anthems. These aren’t particularly lousy songs by any means, but they don’t push the envelope quite like the first handful of tracks do. Among all of them, his second collaboration with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, “Scars,” stands out the most for its euphoric synth lead and genuine vocals. “Destinations” and “Immortale” are the only other departures from this trend; neither have any vocals, kicks or bass drops and serve to break up the flow of the album.
Forever’s only real strike against it is that we would have liked more of that experimental big room sound which we’re convinced will become Alesso’s calling card. It hasn’t been done by anyone at his level of success, and we want to see how far he can take it. Fortunately, if his the trajectory of his career is any indicator, his first album won’t be his last and we’ll likely be hearing more of the same from him in the months to follow.
Alesso's done a lot to hone the sound that's uniquely his. Drawing from his rock inspirations, he's breathed new life into big room house. While we would have liked to see more of that on this album, most of the tracks are still well executed for what they are and make for a memorable debut effort.