Swedish House Mafia: Paradise Again review – a formulaic play for radio airtime | Pop and rock


Swedish House Mafia’s 2012 hit single Don’t You Worry Child embodied the commercial boom of EDM throughout the 2010s. Sounding like the saccharine climax of a Made in Chelsea episode, its emotive vocal and pop melody, paired with bright synths and a thumping kick drum, set the template for coming hits by the likes of Avicii and Kygo. Ten years later, the Swedish supergroup – DJs Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso – reboot this hybrid pop-club music for their debut album. At its worst, Paradise Again is derivative and dated. Tracks play like pastiches: Lifetime apes Starboy-era the Weeknd in its undulating rhythm and 070 Shake’s falsetto vocals; the syncopated modular synth sounds of Time are better articulated on Floating Points’ 2015 record Elaenia.

In its livelier moments, the album tries to revive sounds in new contexts. Redlight samples the Police’s Roxanne, splicing Sting’s yearning hook over a menacing techno beat to surprisingly enjoyable effect, while It Gets Better flirts with the processed synths of the Prodigy’s 1997 single Smack My Bitch Up, pairing them with a hammering bassline. These moments of respite among 17 tracks are too few. Most of the record is palatable but unremarkable – an algorithmic play for radio airtime. Instead, Swedish House Mafia intrigue when they reformulate dance music history.

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