After breaking up in 2013 (it was the “most exciting” thing to do, band member Steve Angello told NME in a cover story last year) Swedish House Mafia reunited for a surprise set at Miami’s Ultra Festival in 2018. Ever since, they’ve been in the studio, working out what the group should sound like now.
It’s a big ask, considering that, in 2010, Swedish House Mafia pretty much defined EDM with debut single ‘One’ and the Tinie Tempah-featuring ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’. Later tracks ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ and ‘Save The World’ went on to become dance classics, but with pulsating synths and bass-heavy drops, those songs are very much of their era. It’s impossible to listen to them now and not feel nostalgic.
Considering their legacy, it’s surprising that ‘Paradise Again’ is the trio’s debut album (2010’s ‘Until One’ and 2012’s ‘Until Now’ were singles compilations). And they’re taking no chances: hyperactive opener ‘Time’ and the glitching club beats of ‘Calling On’ feel like classic Swedish House Mafia, all infectious melodies and undeniable euphoria, while ‘Heaven Takes You Home’ is an instantaneous burst of joy. With British singer Connie Constance’s vocals celebrating the ability to “backflip through tragic”, it feels like an evolved form of what the dance titans were doing a decade ago.
Then there’s ‘Redlight’, a playful and rave-ready EDM reworking of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’ and featuring Sting. So far, so safe. But there’s also plenty of ‘new’ across ‘Paradise Again’. ‘Moth To A Flame’ sees the group embrace melancholy with help from The Weeknd, while the industrial instrumental of ‘Mafia’ acts as an ominous scene-setter for the A$AP Rocky-starring ‘Frankenstein’. Taking inspiration from both Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus‘ and Slowthai’s scrappy, self-destructive punk urgency, it’s a swaggering mosh-pit anthem that’s a world away from the delicate piano driven interlude ‘Jacob’s Note’, a collaboration with Swedish composer Jacob Mühlrad, that was heard moments earlier.
Towards the end of ‘Paradise Again”s deliberate journey comes ‘Another Minute’, an aching emo track about struggles with loneliness (“Can we stay another minute?”), before the atmospheric ‘For You’ closes proceedings. A heartfelt dedication to the group’s fanbase, the latter morphs from gentle beats to an all-out hedonistic celebration.
In short, there’s a lot going on across ‘Paradise Again’. Rather than sounding like a vintage group struggling to find their identity, though, Swedish House Mafia’s debut album sees the trio flexing their musical and emotional muscles across 17 brilliant, fearless and often surprising tracks. The kings of dance music are very much back.
Release date: April 15
Record label: Republic Records