Swedish House Mafia, the hugely popular Stockholm EDM trio that parted ways in 2013, was scorned by detractors as bombastic. It was an accurate description of the group's music, of course, but an odd criticism, since SHM's project was a kind of experiment in the science of bombast: a test to see how many dancers could be moved, how many arenas filled, how many festivals headlined, when a walloping four-on-the-floor beat was hitched to an outsized inspirational slogan. Their "message" was starry-eyed and inane: "Turn up the love," "Don't you worry, child/See, heaven's got a plan for you," "Feel the energy deep inside your system/And leave this world behind," etc. Their music -- based on time-tested tension-and-release configurations of chirpy keyboard lines, pumping bass and that inexorable four-on-the-floor beat -- was crude but ultimately undeniable.
Two-thirds of SHM, the DJ-producers Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, have teamed as a duo under the moniker Axwell + Ingrosso to serve up more of the same: Singles like "Sun Is Shining" and "Something New" feature big, hopeful bromides brayed over slabs of trance-streaked electro-house pomp. But the group's other former member, Steve Angello, is the one who actually wants to do, ahem, something new. The 33-year-old's solo debut, Wild Youth, released on his own Size Records, is a departure: an autobiographical concept album tracing a narrative arc from misbegotten youth to adult success. It includes lots of the customary musical tricks; fanciers of the thudding foursquare beat will not be disappointed. But it stirs in some different musical flavors, and tilts thematically from inspiration to confession.