Wow, this is a hot album – the kind that grabs you from the beginning and hangs on. Shivers, the new artist album from Armin van Buuren releasing August 23rd, shows strong growth in Armin’s songwriting and could just rival Tiesto’s Just Be as a dance artist album. It deserves a listen outside of van Buuren’s strong trance fan base.
While I very much enjoyed 76, Armin’s first solo album, especially tracks like “Burned With Desire” and “Never Wanted This”, I find Shivers to be a much stronger and consistent album overall. Providing strong support on a number of tracks are various guest collaborations. Two standouts emerge from a couple of the hottest acts in dance music right now: Gabriel & Dresden on “Zocalo” and Nadia Ali from Iio on “Who Is Watching”. I find the collaborations on this album to be very natural. The album just flows better than some other collaborative dance albums, such as Oakenfold’s Bunkka.
“Zocalo” sports a minimalist groove held together by a haunting tremolo guitar riff. It’s a bit subtle on first listen, but really opens up in headphones with a lot of interesting layering and a strong build. The opening track, “Wall of Sound”, showcases the return of Justine Suissa, vocalist on 76’s “Burned With Desire” and this track just works all around. Great opener to the album that gets better with each listen and should be a big hit in the club scene. “Empty State”, co-written with Markus Schultz and Mic Burns, features a beautiful Mic Burns vocal with lyrics that get in your head and stick there. Some cool touches here on the backing vocals, as well as some BT-style vocal edits. And of course the title track is already well on its way to being another dance floor classic. Those are a few of the standout tracks for me.
Overall, the album finds a nice mix of van Buuren’s signature sugary sweet trance production and the kind of harder-edged tech trance he’s been featuring in his live shows. Long-time fans will find plenty to like here, but might find themselves stretched just a bit as the album ventures out into some new musical directions. Lyrically, Armin’s work with other writers has both helped to improve his own songwriting and create a stronger album overall.
Ed and Pub:LM