There’s a very simple reason why Steve Angello‘s Wild Youth will be remembered as one of the strongest albums of 2015: It doesn’t sound like anything else on the market right now.
Being that it’s his first full-length album since the 2013 disbanding of his supergroup, Swedish House Mafia, he could have gone the route of his former collaborators and released the hard-kicks-and-hoover-synths progressive house that floods festival main stages worldwide. Given the scene’s current obsession with all things underground, he could also have surrendered himself to whatever whatever deep or tech variety of hipster house is currently being lauded as the second coming of Christ. Instead, Wild Youth Chapter 1 sounds like an evolution of the EDM sound Angello played no small role in shaping that neither betrays nor seeks refuge in the creative legacy he’s already left behind.
The album kicks off with “Children of the Wild,” the track which first signaled the electronic music world to Angello’s bold digression from the status quo. From its anthemic lyrics down to its strangely antiquated instrumental musings, this track told us everything we needed to know about the rest of the album. This wasn’t going to be by-the-numbers EDM, and Angello couldn’t have made that clearer.
In fact, “Tiger” sounds about as close to what most would call “EDM” as anything on the effort. Humming, chirping synths and effects adorn the markedly low tempo of the track with an otherwise club-friendly quality that will ensure it placement in its fair share of live sets following the release of Chapter 1.
Of course, for all its experimental moments, Chapter 1 still features its share of mass appeal. “Wasted Love” is the kind of song you might hear from a band like U2, and Angello’s remix of Saturday, Monday’s “The Ocean” – which features vocals by Julia Spada – is replete with a saccharine synth pop sting that makes it infectiously danceable.
However, the high point of the album is his Gary Go collaboration, “Prisoner.” This track starts off simply enough with its alternative post rock stylings, but an otherworldly key change after the first verse puts it in a category all its own. The tastemakers who control the global conversation that is electronic music are those who succeed in crafting a musical experience that hasn’t already been created by somebody else, and if you’re paying enough attention to hear it, then you’ll recognize this moment in the album as such.
More than anything else, though, Wild Youth Chapter 1 succeeds in making the listener want to hear what Chapter 2 has in store. Steve Angello‘s journey as a musician has taken him to an interesting place as an artist, and it will be fascinating to see what kind of post-Swedish House Mafia statement he chooses to make once the other half of it is available to the masses.
After a point in his career that most would assume was his prime, Steve Angello has managed to make a unique yet relevant addition to his discography in the form of Wild Youth Chapter 1.