Release Date: Jun 17, 2014
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Electronic, Trance, Club/Dance
Since the early 2000s or so, dropping the name Tiesto was a superstar representation of an artist at the heart of mainstream dance music, even if his album releases intriguingly bent the rules. He went electro and indie on his 2009 release Kaleidoscope and just chucked the Tiesto name entirely and went as Allure for the lush 2011 effort Kiss from the Past, so don't be surprised that A Town Called Paradise is a return to the center of EDM, although it is fair to be a bit disappointed. After all, the big opener and single "Red Lights," with Michel Zitron, sounds like an Avicii-esque reimagining of the Wallflowers' "One Headlight" with little that's identifiably Tiesto, and these plays for radio don't stop until "Wasted" lands at track eight with a building, stomping beat that's pleasingly different.
EDM has changed pop, and now pop is changing veteran DJ Tiësto. He's moved from the abrasively chilly trance of 2009's Kaleidoscope to embrace pianos and guitars, a warm sound like the 4 a.m. version of Taylor Swift or Coldplay. He's a consummate crowd-pleaser, but he's best when he gets weird: The warped grind of "Echoes" is a standout; "Wasted" might be one of 2014's best country songs.
Tiësto’s new record, pointedly titled A Town Called Paradise, forces me into uneasy confrontation with my own long-standing, complicated love for cheesy European synth pop, disco, and vocal trance. European synth pop like Erasure, Alphaville, and A-Ha have owned a very special place in my heart since childhood; indeed, Erasure’s the Innocents was the first record I ever bought with my own money. Italo disco acts like Ken Lazlo and Savage, as well as revival acts like Sally Shapiro, make me very, very happy indeed.
How much do albums even matter in EDM? That’s one of the questions that’s dogged the genre throughout its unparalleled ascent in America over the last half-decade. Even more than in pop, dance music is a singles business. In today’s teeming EDM festival crowds, fans might not even know who the artist onstage is, let alone have a desire to stick with them for a full LP.