Avicii surprised the industry twice with his debut album True—first by performing it live before a bewildered audience at Ultra Music Festival in 2013 before its release and a year later when everyone came back around and loved it, once it was blessed with his brand of studio shine. As the title Stories suggests, his sophomore album is very much a sequel, where again Avicii attempts to show that he’s more than an EDM producer. Doing the same magic trick twice loses its luster in the encore performance, however.
The likable “Waiting for Love” is the sort of big-room, lovey-dovey EDM that made songs like “Fade into Darkness” so big, and it’s truly the album’s strongest moment, no matter how played out this sound has become. But it’s when Avicii tries to repeat himself on crossover country cuts like “Broken Arrows” and “Trouble” or the token trap song “Pure Grinding” that Stories begins to lack any clear direction. Other head-scratching moments include Wyclef collaboration “Can’t Catch Me” and “Somewhere in Stockholm,” which captures the Swedish/American cultural disconnect that EDM DJs are beginning to experience with Vegas clubgoers.
Stories delivers all new material, but you can’t help feeling like you’ve heard it before.