Since the early 2000s or so, dropping the name Tiesto was a superstar representation of an artist at the heart of mainstream dance music, even if his album releases intriguingly bent the rules. He went electro and indie on his 2009 release Kaleidoscope and just chucked the Tiesto name entirely and went as Allure for the lush 2011 effort Kiss from the Past, so don't be surprised that A Town Called Paradise is a return to the center of EDM, although it is fair to be a bit disappointed. After all, the big opener and single "Red Lights," with Michel Zitron, sounds like an Avicii-esque reimagining of the Wallflowers' "One Headlight" with little that's identifiably Tiesto, and these plays for radio don't stop until "Wasted" lands at track eight with a building, stomping beat that's pleasingly different. Still, those radio-worthy bits work better when taken in as 12s or dropped in a mix set, as "Light Years Away," with DBX, is a grand explosion of life-affirming fireworks and standard-issue EDM lyrics ("Satellites, are crashing down/I watch you disappear at the speed of sound"), while the title track is necessary for rolling into Vegas with "Let's wash away the night into a neon scene of light/Away we'll drive into a town called Paradise." Cute how Icona Pop adopt a Latin-like flow on the carnivalesque "Lets' Go," while the cathartic closer, "Set Yourself Free" with Krewella, seems to shoot beach balls, water skis, and vacation plans out of the speakers. Still, with so many blast-drop-build-explode numbers on the track list, and most guest artists acting like they're auditioning for Coldplay, the album suffers from constant uplift and pathos overflow without the benefit of this being a DJ mix. Best to part it out and party, because if there's a blueprint for the vocal EDM album, A Town Called Paradise follows it too closely, spinning through all the usual breaks and drops without pausing to consider the full picture.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Sultan + Shepard