They’re back! Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll be fully aware that all eyes have been on the future of Swedish House Mafia. The record-breaking Scandinavian trio, who called it quits in 2013, only to sensationally return at Ultra Music Festival in Miami in March 2018, have been keeping much of their new music under wraps, teasing studio sessions across their social media snippets. But now, for the first time ever, we have a debut studio album in the form of ‘Paradise Again’.
Here are our CULTR rankings, in ascending order… Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Paradise Again’ album:
17. FRANKENSTEIN (FEAT. ASAP ROCKY)
The real venom of this darker style of the SHM rebirth is never felt as potently as on ‘Frankenstein‘. Whilst previous ventures into collaborations with big names from the world of hip-hop/R&B (e.g. Pharrell, The Weeknd etc) have birthed ‘lighter’ sounds, the addition of Rocky sees Monsieurs Hedfors, Angello, and Ingrosso, flex their experimental muscles into a gruff-sounding trap music sound, with the American rapper – somewhat ironically, given the rumours regarding his recent split from Rihanna – angrily barking accusations of unfaithfulness down the mic.
An incredibly moody and grunge-filled production, this is as close to the line of darkness as SHM have ever ventured. A production which certainly wouldn’t feel out of place in the soundtrack of the recent blockbuster movie, ‘The Batman‘, the sound of ‘Mafia‘ is perhaps an aural representation of the edgy vibe the trio are wishing to display going forward. Though it might not necessarily fit alongside many of the album’s more upbeat tracks, this may be a production which was crafted for the purpose of creating atmospheric moments in live shows.
15. JACOB’S NOTE (FEAT. JACOB MUHLRAD)
A production which is somewhat tough to rank – or even categorise – alongside the pantheon of productions in this jam-packed album, many on account of the 64 second total run-time of the track, this classical piano snippet is typical of a concept album, and proves a somewhat soothing sorbet to the high intensity acidic mustard of tracks like ‘Frankenstein‘.
Sounding more like a sample of a full track than a finished production in entirety, the trio flex their inner-Chemical Brothers on the digital synths and bleeps of this robotic track. Bizarrely, this feels more like an album filler than anything else.
13. FOR YOU
Choosing to end ‘Paradise Again‘ with this track (in chronological order), it is perhaps easy to see why the trio have selected this as the perfect album ender. Haunted by a soothing wistfulness which wouldn’t look out of place on Anjunadeep, the records marks the musical evolution of a group who longer have to producer in-your-face euphoria to be heard. Instead, opting to mark their maturity by airing a much more modern sound.
12. ANOTHER MINUTE
There’s certainly a debate to be had that the Swedes are at their arguable strongest when it comes to crafting well rounded emotional ballads, rather than the high-tempo EDM they became famous for at the turn of the past decade. Here we witness the authentic humanity which has endeared the group into the hearts of so many via this melancholic production, on one of the album’s most under-rated tracks.
11. PARADISE AGAIN
Once again, when looking into this album deeper, it would appear that the Mafia have not just included tracks for the consumption of public listening, but also atmospheric mood-builders which can be used as intros or segways between sectors during their live shows. The melodic feels of ‘Paradise Again’ is apt to the track’s title, as listeners are transported to a beach far away, and thrust into a flow-like state of reflection, similar to the inclusion of ‘Destinations‘ on fellow Swede Alesso‘s ‘Forever‘ album.
Having previously declared their intention to use the release of their first ever studio album to highlight much of the artistic versatility displayed by some of their own favourite LPS throughout history from the likes of Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, and Pink Floyd, it’s no surprise to see the Swedes strip things back to a real Californian feel here. Having spent many of their recent years in Los Angeles, this slick track feels as effortlessly cool as the generic skateboarding hipster along Venice Beach.
9. CAN U FEEL IT
Packed with, as the Professor himself would describe, “a phat kick“, the Mafia tap into percussive elements to produce another atmospheric mood builder which will surely come in handy during live shows. An inspiring vocal adds depth to an otherwise repetitive production, but there’s no doubt that this one can go OFF on the dance-floor at the right moment. Lights down low, brooding club music, this is the modern Mafia.
8. IT GETS BETTER
Please forgive us for failing too provide any insight here on a phrase which has been echoed on numerous occasions before, but this track – despite displaying all the classic hallmarks of a perfectly produced SHM anthem – will forever (much like Axwell & Ingrosso‘s 2016 vs 2017 version(s) of ‘Dreamer’), be categorised under the ‘what would’ve been’ folder. When opening up their Stockholm reunion shows in 2019, the trio aired a punchy club anthem primed for main-stages worldwide. What eventually made it to release was a diluted version inexplicably clad with a cowbell breakdown.
7. HEAVEN TAKES YOU HOME (FEAT. CONNIE CONSTANCE)
Packing all the same kind of vocal emotion we’ve come to know and love from the SHM sound over the years, ‘Heaven Takes You Home’ brings us that joyful yet wistful feel that many felt upon hearing ‘Underneath It All’ for the first time. With that particular record omitted from the album due to legal reasons, Connie Constance steps in to deliver a mesmeric vocal reminiscent of a young Aluna. With Klahr also added to production duties on this one, the track actually feels much more upbeat than ‘Underneath It All’ and proves a welcome substitute.
6. CALLING ON
Clad with a unique looped melody, SHM tap into the ‘House’ sandwiched between ‘Swedish’ and ‘Mafia’ with this masterpiece which – similarly to much of Tchami‘s music – intertwines a spiritual soul-guided vocal to weave gospel-esque elements into a bass-house beat. The way the tracks kicks in with an extra energy burst of energy at the midway point is a welcome addition to one of the most crisply produced fresh tracks on ‘Paradise Again‘.
5. TIME (FEAT. MAPEI)
Undoubtedly one of the most dynamic productions on the album, ‘TIME’ feels like a track soaked in a heavy Axwell influence with the main body of the piece featuring those tight plucks we’ve similarly heard on ‘Nobody Else’ and the Axtone bossman’s remix of Halsey’s ‘Graveyard’. When you think of the 2022 Swedish House Mafia sound, this kind of fresh house-focused record should prove the epitome of how their second coming will be remembered.
4. DON’T GO MAD (FEAT. SEINABO SEY)
First teased at Ultra 2022 in one of the most genius modern marketing examples of using advertising space to tease the album, this is SHM at their high-energy finest. The wubs of those deep looping bass textures scream Ingrosso, with the house-focused breakdown perfectly primed for the dance-floor. Of all the ‘Paradise Again‘ tracks not yet released as singles, this is undoubtedly the finest, with many fans claiming that various samples of the instrumentals in this track bear strong resemblance to the later work of Tim Bergling, aka Avicii.
3. MOTH TO A FLAME (WITH THE WEEKND)
It may feel tough to muster the appropriate excitement for a track we’ve already had on repeat for many months by this point, but on production value alone, this is as close to perfect as any producer(s) could wish for. Topped by the unmistakable vocal of SHM’s newest bestie, this one will surely gain the most positive crowd reaction during the upcoming SHM x The Weeknd performance at Coachella. Had we not already been gifted ‘Moth To A Flame’ as a single, then the unveil of this one on album release morning would have undoubtedly started to trend virally.
2. REDLIGHT (FEAT. STING)
When SHM called it quits in 2013, ask most fans which track defined their legacy and you’d usually hear ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ or ‘Save The World’. At a push, ‘One’, and for those feeling more left-field, ‘Miami 2 Ibiza‘. However, as time passed, the general consensus among the SHM fanbase is that the frenetic energy of ‘Greyhound’ is the most-universally loved rave anthem. Similarly, as time flows, ‘Redlight‘ will be remembered as the piece-de-resistance of this album, such is the addictive nature of a track which improves with every listen!
1. LIFETIME (WITH TY DOLLA SIGN & 070 SHAKE)
Coated in a lush brooding vibe filled with retro-sound electronica synth-wave sounds which wouldn’t feel out of place in ‘Miami Vice’ or any other cairo-tinged 80s pop culture moment, ‘Lifetime’ embodies the art-deco style of modern music, oozing with character and real unique creativity. Stripped back to a much more ambient and downtempo vibe than the pre-2013 SHM sound, ‘Lifetime’ embodies everything we’ve come to expect from the modern Mafia... Integrity, class, sophistication, and an artist playfulness.
What are your thoughts on the album? Let us know across our CULTR social media channels!