Ever since they graced the decks of Pete Tong’s Essential Mix back in May 2011, I have been looking forward to the first full-length studio album from AN21 and Max Vangeli. The combination of established favorites and unreleased big-room gems put that mix in my rotation for a period of time earlier this year. There were a couple of new songs from AN21 and Max in the set, but it was the first time I was really listening to them and I enjoyed their blend of tunes.
Well, fast forward to today, when People Of The Night has finally been released on the Size Matters imprint. Keep reading to hear about what they’ve put together in a year.
As you would expect, the album’s title (and lead) track is arguably its strongest offering, and “People Of The Night” is a beautiful song with lots of emotion. But, we’ve been hearing it for a while now, and despite Tiesto’s contributions, it still hasn’t quite caught on. My personal favorite is the entrancing and exquisitely-crafted “Fresh Start,” which received unfortunate placement right in the middle of the 15-track album. I remember it from the Essential Mix with “Together” and Swanky Tunes’ “United,” and it’s still a great piece of music that could use an endorsement from Steve himself to have a chance at getting some real play on its own.
AN21 & Max Vangeli – Fresh Start
Aside from “Fresh Start,” a number of the other tracks on the album show promise, but desperately need remixes to take on new life. The vocals on “Glow,” “This Far,” “Whisper,” and “Bombs Over Capitals” are all pretty good, but the underlying productions need to be taken to the next level. The toplines from vocalists like Rudy, Example, and Julie McKnight are all impressive and anthemic — but perhaps too anthemic, as AN21 and Max fail to deliver the dynamic essentials to back up such strong melodies. Lacking balance, even the better selections from POTN come off as an example of overreaching in the wrong places. Credit is deserved for their melodic buildups and top-notch decorative elements, but dance details fall short. Still, if Size can find the right people to remix them, we might have some new club hits here. A Tommy Trash remix of “Glow” feels like it could work, to me at least.
AN21 & Max Vangeli Ft. Bnann – Glow
AN21 & Max Vangeli Ft. Julie McKnight – Bombs Over Capitals
Unfortunately, AN21 and Max’s attempts to re-create Steve Angello’s brand of ‘underground’ house falls short on tracks like “Brunette,” “Vafan,” and “Shades.” I wouldn’t endorse any of these tracks, and found myself skipping over them the past few weeks as I soaked in this album. What makes matters worse, however, is that they’re interspersed throughout the album, making it harder to concentrate on the songs that are actually good. The arrangement of tracks doesn’t make much sense here, and more flow would’ve been nice.
AN21 & Max Vangeli Vs Moguai – Brunette
You can hear the difference in a track like “H8RS,” which was made ‘vs’ Steve Angello, and has the extra stuff needed to make your head bob subconsciously. On their own, AN21 and Max aren’t quite there yet. Some more guidance on this album from their Size — and Refune or Axtone — friends would have served them well.
AN21 & Max Vangeli Vs Steve Angello – H8RS
Overall, POTN is a respectable debut album from two guys who have become more famous for their DJing and partying antics than for their original productions. There’s a lot of potential in some of the tracks, but it also could have been more polished all around. It feels like Max and AN21 had a sound in mind while working in the studio, but they just weren’t able to fully execute. Things intended to be big room aren’t big room enough, and the same goes for progressive. I think had they focused their efforts on (or simply included) a smaller number of tracks, this would be a very different album overall.
So, while Size will definitely continue to matter, in the case of POTN, something smaller would have packed a bigger punch.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Dylan Farella contributed to this report.