Swedish House Mafia Until Now Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A loose mix best experienced with your critical faculties compromised.

Matthew Horton 2012

House music's power is in communal experience, from the warehouse parties of the early adopters, through the cult of the DJ with every clubber worshipping at the altar of the 1s and 2s, to the colossal arena gig where thousands can hit that high at once. It comes into its own when you can look around you and see everyone moved by the same pull and thrust of the music, not vogueing alone in your bedroom.

So far so obvious, but Swedish House Mafia live by this tenet, relentlessly working the dynamics of the dancefloor. Their records may make for pretty wearing listening, but the live performance is designed to bulldoze critical doubts.

Catch them while you can. Our favourite progressive house supergroup – comprising Swedish DJs Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello and Axwell – announced their split earlier this year and are now off on an extended farewell tour, with Until Now as the official soundtrack. The assumption then is that this collection of new tracks and remixes, by the three of them together and apart, makes sense under the lasers. It's certainly tough going in any other setting.

Over a punishing hour and a quarter, the trio demonstrates their mastery of the ecstasy rush. And how. There's barely a track in this loosely mixed set that doesn't wheel out the intensifying beats and rising acid synths of the big hands-in-the-air crescendo, from the jacking Greyhound to the bassy madness of Knife Party collaboration Antidote. Angello's Lights rarely descends from its cheap highs.

It's exhausting, and somehow impatient. Swedish House Mafia don't earn their big moments, they throw them in whenever the ideas pot runs dry – and it's telling that the imaginative interventions come with snatches of Coldplay and Florence + The Machine, remixes of more expansive tunes.

These superstar DJs understand the mechanics of club euphoria, but they just don't have the tools to do anything great with them. Until Now is best experienced with your critical faculties compromised.

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