In the five years he’s been around, Alesso has built up quite a resume. He’s worked with Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Avicii, was established as an artist to watch out for by MTV and has opened for Madonna’s MDNA tour on select stops. Between all of this work and eleven singles in four years, he’s finally taken the time to put out his own debut album, Forever.
Alesso has a strict style on Forever. The formula often involves opening a song with guitars, piano or other instruments before building into a progressive house drop for the chorus. Heavy use of real or sampled instruments is nothing new for the popular electronic world, but when done right it tends to provide very good results.
In this case, the results are somewhat mixed. Heroes (We Could Be), a collaboration with Swedish singer Tove Lo, starts it off strong with Tove Lo’s light yet still powerful voice, which makes up for the rather sparse use of guitar. Cool takes a similar route, starting simple with a piano loop and Roy English’s vocals carrying the song to the drop, but instead heavily samples the piano straight from Kylie Minogue’s extremely catchy single Get Out Of My Way, which helps the song sound better than it could have with its own unique loop.
The best of these songs is easily All This Love. It once again features minimal use of a guitar and the vocals of Noonie Bao before slowly building into the drop. The synths come in earlier in this song, filling the intro out and making a softer transition into the drop, which helps the song already, before moving into the strongest drop on the album. Bao’s vulnerable, almost fragile vocals serve the song well, giving it a softer edge and helping it stand out over the singers with less unique vocals. While there isn’t a bad vocalist to be seen on the album, they don’t sell their songs as well as Bao does.
But when it comes to the rest of the songs, the production never really matches up to these ones. By following the same formula, they tend to lose their unique identifying features, which in turn makes them feel less interesting. The songs that don’t follow the instrument formula and instead focus solely on synths and beats tend to sound similar to what producers like Calvin Harris gave us last year on their own albums. This is especially noticeable as Alesso’s collaboration with Harris, Under Control, which was on his album Motion, is found on this album as well. In terms of other songs that mimic these styles, it’s most obvious on Tear the Roof Up and Payday.
As the debut album of someone who was once lauded as the descendant of Swedish House Mafia and called the next big thing in dance music by Madonna, it’s not as strong as it could have been. While he does hit it big when he gets it right, especially with All This Love, the rest feels like something that would have been surprising and new a year or two ago. Forever doesn’t really stand out in any major way, but the hits it does feature make it worth at least some of your time.