Release Date: May 26, 2015
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Club/Dance, Progressive House, EDM
Even if Alesso was late onto the ever-growing list of Swedish EDM DJs and producers, his debut studio album, Forever, successfully argues that his name should be pushed somewhere near the top on versatility alone. "If I Lose Myself" with OneRepublic is the expected pop uplift aimed at the dancefloor, while "Sweet Escape" with Sirena and "Scars" with Ryan Tedder are sweet-and-sour EDM vocal numbers that stick in the head. Not much new there, and yet "Heroes (We Could Be)" with Tove Lo is bold enough to just borrow from the like-named Bowie song and then build an entirely new number around it.
A protégé of Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso, Alesso (born Alessandro Lindblad) is the latest Swedish DJ-producer aiming for global club domination with his debut album. Aside from a couple of ponderous, buzz-killing instrumentals, Forever is one long rave: Skyscraping synths, jackhammer beats and crossover-ready guest vocalists like Tove Lo (joining her compatriot for an EDM tune that flips David Bowie’s "Heroes") keep fists and endorphins pumping. There’s the occasional dose of melancholy on tracks like the Ryan Tedder collaboration "Scars" — but the Kylie Minogue-sampling "Cool" is pure summer-jam bliss.
Swedish producer/DJ Alesso already has a name that tops festival billings, so at this point, putting out a debut album feels more like the fulfillment of a contract obligation than a choice based on any sort of artistic whim. The music on Forever does nothing to convince that it’s anything more than a business decision; just another easy win for those banking on EDM’s newfound commerciality. Alesso, for his part, counts on his fans recognizing the personal touches he puts in each of his songs, how each track is the product of his “emotional journey”, and regardless of the quality of the music, he comes off heartfelt and genuine in this respect.
The rise of electronic dance music has changed the industry: Multi-day festivals headlined by phalanxes of DJs have become crucial to the bottom line, and big-name producers have remade the “Vegas residency” with eye-popping paydays at luxe clubs. But certain old ideas still hold, which is why Alesso, a protégé of countryman Sebastian Ingrosso, is releasing his first solo album some four years after his initial chart splash. Despite being assembled from recent singles and newer compositions, “FOREVER” has a few overarching traits: lush, showy instrumental beds, lyrics that too often muse on the ideas of feeling exquisite pain and transmuting oneself into astral material, and vocal performances (from the boldfaced likes of OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and “Habits” belter Tove Lo) that emphasize octave-leaping gymnastics and impressively sustained syllables.