Pop music brims with fascinating personalities. Avicii isn’t one of them. He leads a dreamy, jet-fuel-vaporizing life as a DJ, minding the fader for massive crowds around the planet. His international smashes — the 2011 Grammy nominee ”Levels” and this summer’s yearning, inescapable ”Wake Me Up” — inundate dance-festival libertines and supermarket shoppers alike.
But the blandly handsome 24-year-old Swede born Tim Bergling is merely a vessel, a party godhead. The challenge he faces, and mostly meets, on his official debut, True, is how to break up a woozy, whomping live experience into songs with feeling — to translate house music for the home. His answer: Invite a genuine smorgasbord of collaborators. These include Nile Rodgers of Chic and Daft Punk fame, bluegrass singer Dan Tyminski, eyeliner icon Adam Lambert, the Adele-esque Audra Mae, and anony-talents like Linnea Henriksson (fourth place, 2010 Swedish Idol). ”Wake Me Up” opens with an acoustic thrum and young soulman Aloe Blacc belting lyrics custom-fit for callow youth: ”I wish that I could stay forever this young…. Life’s a game made for everyone.” True is inarguably blithe, with a four-four beat stalking every song, and it gobbles down neo-folk, disco, and Imagine Dragons (”Heart Upon My Sleeve”) with nary a hiccup. Still, there are plenty of anxious EDM builds and melancholy breaks to temper all that Jell-O-shot exuberance. Avicii’s genre-hacking whimsy may seem decadent or oblivious. But it’s undeniably optimistic — inspiring, even. B