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Avicii revamps ‘True’ with a live-suited remix album [Album Review]

One year ago, Swedish progressive house superstar Avicii took to the Ultra Main Stage to play a set that would forever be spoken about as one of the most daring and ambitious moves ever made in the commercial electronic music industry. When Avicii’s True finally emerged in all its glory in September of 2013, the album was praised from every corner of the industry as being an album driven by musical talent and creativity, forgoing the typical sound that was expected of the LE7ELS mogul. However, some of the electrifying mixes heard in the album’s promotional mix simply were not present.  Six months later, we have finally been given some long-desired and some completely new and unheard versions of the tracks from Avicii’s True.

Titled as True – Avicii by Avicii, the producer once again flipped the music on its head, bringing forth new elements to grace the beautiful vocal lines that existed amongst the authentic musicianship from Avicii and his team on the original album. Although never explicitly stated, the Avicii by Avicii album serves, in many ways, as an album filled with club mixes that are festival-ready and prepped with the big stage in mind. The album is certainly not without its faults, but Avicii manages to give previously tired songs a breath of fresh air through new chord progressions, altered vocals, and harder-hitting beats.

As the album begins, fans are greeted by a familiar name with an unfamiliar sound. The world-dominating “Wake Me Up” begins with progressive percussion, far from the classic guitar chords we expect to hear when the original track begins. A chord progression previously tested in unreleased material joins Aloe Blacc’s original vocal, immediately bringing a larger feel to the folk-infused track. The song, though, cannot manage to escape the symmetrical form that was omnipresent on the original album – and it isn’t hard to notice. With the same guitar solo presented twice, it becomes evident that the front and back half of the track are identical. Still, Avicii’s variation in production has given new life to one of this year’s most played tracks, and prepped it more appropriately for the live stage.

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Managing to stand lighter on its own feet, “You Make Me” brings a brighter sound forth in place of the pounding electro synths in the track’s original version. As the album continues, it is shown that the Avicii by Avicii version of “You Make Me” may have been more appropriate on the original album, with the original version more appropriate for the big stage live vibe that is presented with the rest of the album. The track, though, serves as an enjoyable reintroduction to the classic Avicii sound following the original True.

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“Hey Brother” is automatically introduced with the first altered vocal on the album, giving the tune a raw and authentic vibe as compared to the processed vocal of the original. As the third track continues, it becomes clear that it suffers from the same symmetry that many of Avicii’s tracks possess. The remixed “Hey Brother” is sure to be polarizing – appealing to a completely different crowd, the tune will undoubtedly receive mixed reactions. Yet, the country-injected electronic song should have a more positive initial reception than the original mix from commercial electronic fans worldwide, especially when heard in its intended setting.

Packaged along with other remixes prior to the album’s release, “Addicted to You” holds onto its former vocal yet presents the energy that the original track begged for. More than twice as long as the original track, the updated version brings classic Avicii back into the mix, as thick synths return as the most memorable feature of the production.

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As a fan favorite on True, “Dear Boy” presented itself as a mix of electro, progressive, and even half-time trap when originally debuted on the promotional mix. Yet, Avicii once again graces an album that has an overarching feel of higher-energy mixes with a toned down version of an original track. While certainly high-energy, the track does not have the elements that allow it to stand out from the original as a live-intended track in the way that the rest of the album does.

The album reaches new heights with the alternate version of “Liar Liar.” From the promotional mix to live shows, Tim has pushed the Avicii by Avicii version of “Liar Liar” over the original, and for good reason. While one of the album’s regrettably shorter cuts, the track begins the two-track run that eventually proves to carry the rest of the album on its shoulders. “Liar Liar” is a necessary revamp to an original track that missed its mark, providing the mix that the original vocal always belonged with. Amongst an album with solid and enjoyable tracks, “Liar Liar” is sure to force a smile upon any dance music fan’s face.

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It is hard to put the atmosphere of Avicii’s rework of “Shame on Me” into words. Yet one comes to mind: fantastic. Shining head-and-shoulders above the rest of the project, “Shame on Me” will be cemented as a good track, while the Avicii by Avicii version will be held in the highest regard, and considered great. The groove is brought on heavy for live performances with this updated track.

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While the original “Lay Me Down” served its place on the album as a funk-filled showcase of collaborative production from the young Swede, the new version takes the Nile Rogers guitar and replaces it with big room synth production. The tune serves as one of the few tracks that is practically interchangeable with the original tuned for the festival season, which seems to be the goal of the project as a whole. While elements from the original are disappointingly absent, the track, overall, succeeds.

Without mention of the instrumental “Heart Upon My Sleeve,” the album comes to a close with a slightly new rendition of “Hope There’s Someone.” The alternate rendition is certainly successful, holding onto the loved elements of the original while giving the track life in the big room, yet the new version simply does not feel new enough to be deserving a spot on the Avicii by Avicii album, let alone close it out. However, the new electro synth line is exciting, and does provide fans with a track they have been searching for since its presentation originally in the promotional mix.

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Closing Thoughts

While unable to recapture the magic and musicianship that Avicii brought with the original True, Avicii successfully brings light back to songs that many may now consider overplayed. With tracks like “Shame on Me” and “Liar Liar” making new, profound names for themselves, Avicii by Avicii proves not to simply be a side project or quick cash-in for the globe trotting DJ superstar, but a wholehearted big room transformation of a musically-focused album. Not without its faults, Avicii by Avicii’s True is captivating and fun, regardless of whether or not the technical elements of the original album live on to see another day.

Purchase True (Avicii by Avicii)

Read the review of the original True by Avicii.

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