Let's just start this off by saying that I'm not an Avicii hater like so many of my comrades. The EDM Illuminati has been chastising Tim and his Machiavellian manager for years, but I still see some bright sides, but maybe not so much after Stories.
One thing is undeniable, "Levels" was a work of dance music genius akin to "One More Time" and "I Feel Love" on many fronts. The track was immediately infectious like a great pop dance song is supposed to be and will no doubt stand the test of cruel disco time. You will hear it at weddings, bah mitzvahs and sporting events for the next ten years.
Where do you go after that?
It's not easy, but unfortunately for Avicii inc. it has been a slow burn downwards. It's kind of like watching a Dunhill slowly being smoked and burn away into ash; it was good while it lasted.
Sidebar - Pun intended for those who got it.
I'm even going to say that "Wake Me Up" with the stellar vocals of Aloe Blacc was a barnstormer of a track. What a great hook, great lyric, all just superb and catchy as hell, even thought provoking. So what happened?
I've listened to Stories two times and really really REALLY dug in to find that Umami, that something special, like the tracks mentioned above.
Guess what? Goose egg!
What is Stories? Stories is a half-court shot at the buzzer with nothing left to lose. Avicii Inc. has nothing left in the tank, but this pathetic attempt feels like an appeal to the American masses with flaccid country dance ballads like "Broken Arrows." This song is so lame that even commercial country fans might go "Ugh, this is too obvious and manipulative for us y'all."
Are you trying to desperately recreate "Wake Me Up?"
Yes, and this version is its ugly stepsister with the corniest hook I've heard since that Hardwell abortion "Sally." (I nearly went deaf and insane listening to that one and that's being nice.)
Almost every track on this record sounds like a deflated version of something else.
What's even crazier is that this "album" feels like it was made by 14 different people not one producer with a vision for a piece of work. Literally nothing feels authentic or cohesive; there are moments of "yeah, that's ok" but that's it. It should have been called Stories: From Other Producers Trying To Get Radio Play.
There are redeeming moments on the record, like "Ten More Days" and "Touch Me," and then you hear "Pure Grinding" and "Sunset Jesus" and want to gobble down ADE Ecstasy to ease your pain. (That's very topical, it's MDMA that kills you)
What should Avicii do now? Obviously the kid and his team know how to produce catchy pop music, maybe they should just produce for other people because it's hard to tell who the hell Avicii actually is anymore as an artist.
This album is to music what Taco Bell is to Mexican food, you could eat it by why would you?
I will close with this classic quote: "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."