As both Steve Angello’s debut album and his first since the demise of Swedish House Mafia, Wild Youth represents an important step in his well-established career. Acting as a retelling of his personal history and a snapshot of his current musical state. Envisioned as a two part project, the first part saw its release in late 2015; it was a promising first impression for the project, but had a few less enjoyable moments that marred the incomplete package. As a complete collection, however, things are looking up.
Even on the final tracklist, the album’s weakest moments still come from the first release of tracks. Single track Children of the Wild has some interesting ideas, with drums and guitar making a stark counter to the house beat that makes up the meat of the song, but never being used in an exciting way that makes the song stand out. The lone instrumental track Tiger is a similarly unexciting moment, taking too long to build into a proper groove and never evolving in any major way until its final moments.
However, the first half also houses the album’s strongest songs, with Wasted Love’s distinct vocals, as provided by The Temper Trap’s Dougy Mandagi, helping the simple vocal sections stand up to the sparkling tower of sound that is its chorus, and The Presets’ presence on Remember giving an indie pop edge to the deep house beat that helps it stand out, and the piercing piano at the forefront of the mix enhancing the otherworldly breakdown. The longest track is also the strongest, however, with The Ocean moving from an initially lush string arrangement into a foreboding dance beat, highlighted by the staggering vocal performance of Julia Spada; when the two halves of the song come together, it stands high above the rest of the album.
The songs that saw their release with the full album tie the somewhat divisive first half of the album together; the straight house beats of Revolution and Last Dance compliment the rest of the album well, and Stockholm Skies stands close to the album’s strongest tracks, making for a much more balanced full package. Had the first half only existed as a separate EP, it may not have been quite as enjoyable as it is with these recent additions to back them up.
Now that the package is complete, though, it leaves a much better impression than the initial release. The songs complement each other well, and the full concept of the album gets a chance to properly shine. Even though it has its weaker moments, there’s a lot of impressive material to experience in Wild Youth, and his future after the breakdown of Swedish House Mafia is most certainly assured.