[Album Review] Hardwell – United We Are

United We Are has caused quite a buzz in the EDM world. Being Hardwell’s debut album, the release of it was bound to become one of the major highlights of this month. Having collaborated with a diversity of artists such as W&W, Jason Derulo and Chris Jones and many more, this album has a lot to showcase. With Hardwell portraying his innovation and exclusivity of his style, the question is, does United We Are have the potential to be the album of the year?

Hardwell kicks off United We Are with a roaring opener anthem, Eclipse which many of you might know of from his set list if youve been to any of his recent gigs. Having been named originally as Titan, this track successfully sets the tone for the entire album. With a symphonic orchestral introduction, a classic build up which seems to be coming straight out of a video game and finally a head banging drop, Eclipse lays down a strong foundation for the album. Hardwells collaboration with the pop/hip-hop artist, Jason Derulo manifests as  Follow Me and shifts the mood entirely to pop crossover. A perfect fit amongst progressive house genre, this song may not be the best exhibit of Hardwells capabilities. With a regular buildup and an average climax, this addition is bound to make the listeners skeptical about the upcoming tracks. Sally featuring Harrison takes the limelight next and it proves that too much experimentation with pop genre along with incompatible pop-punk influenced vocals definitely doesnt seem to be the key to the listeners heart.

After the previous two tracks, the listeners may still be holding on to the last strand of hope from the collaboration with Bright Lights except Let Me Be Your Home carries with it the familiar pattern of a slow build up, elegant morphing of the vocals followed by an all too common drop. Next up is Colours. It is a given that a lot has to be riding on a collaboration that bring two EDM titans together. Even with Tiestos expertise, Hardwells capabilities and Andreas Moes soulful vocals, it is heartbreaking to see Colours fall into the category of songs that are made to market the radio audience. Devoid of any freshness, these Dutchmen have failed to ignite the much needed spark.

Hardwell reconstructs his big-room style with inspiration coming straight from deep house realm. A beginning filled with suspense with thumping baseline at perfect intervals set as a background to the magical voice of I-Fan shaping heavily into a beat which is exemplary of Funkermans much appreciated morphing of deep and techno house, Where Is Here Now manages to keep things interesting for the album and makes way for the title track. With the revelation coming from the fact that the entire world is connected through technology and with the hope of bringing  all his fans in the world together through his music, the next track is massive not just because it is the title track but because it features Amba Shepherd and is a follow up to their previously majorly successful collaboration, Apollo. Fat synths, gritty yet kickass bassline,  a successful metamorphosis of progressive house and techno genre and Ambas all too stunning vocals makes United We Are the supporting pillar of this album. The thriving energy following the monstrous drop qualifies this track as a festival favourite. Next, Hardwells collaboration with W&W and Fatman Scoop makes a grand entrance as, Dont Stop The Madness. W&Ws introduction of electro house music which fuses well with the deep and powerful vocals given by Fatman Scoop is enough to make this track one of its kind in the entire tracklist of the album. The slow buildup is taken over by a trippy tempo giving birth to an essential in all party playlists.

If youre looking for an emotional track in this album, Young Again featuring Chris Jones might be your calling. A blend of electro-acoustic guitar riffs, pounding chords that highlight the catchy melody and all too powerful vocals of Chris Jones along with perfect timings for the dominant drops and club beats, this track is infectious in all aspects. Echo featuring Jonathan Mendelsohn portrays a completely different side to United We Are. The track kicks off slowly and is immediately ruled by Jonathans gratifying vocals. Even though the track takes its own sweet time to reach the climax, Hardwells experimentation with two different yet monstrous drops leaves the listeners completely mind blown. With an interesting outlook given to the classic story of Alice in the Wonderland, Arcadia comes with its own official music video.  Hardwells well known big room style and Lucianas magnetic vocals blending with Joey Dales own distinctive element is enough to transport you to Arcadia.

When the theme of the song is based on space, you know it is going to be great. Area 51 portrays the work of DallasK alongside Hardwell. With a more festival and dance floor orientated outlook, this track is definite to hit the nail. Filthy percussions maintained from the beginning till the end are ideal for creating the aura of mysteriousness. Though the melody remains constant, the track is retouched with DallasKs electrifying style. With Nothing Can Hold Us Down next in line, the tempo escalates to ten times higher and the listeners is swooned away by the big room style but with the twist of a harder bassline. Showcasing Haris bitter sweet vocals and Headhunterzs unique style, this track is perfect to start the night. The album concludes on a different and promising note with Birds Fly featuring Mr. Probz. The piano melody underlying the track along with the minimal EDM element fits perfectly with Mr. Probzs amazing vocals and is a refreshing shift from the signature progressive house style for Hardwell.

While some of the initial tracks were simply too predictable and dull, there were a bunch of hit singles and collaborations marking the tracklist of the album. With majority of the tracks completely defining the versatility that Hardwell brings with himself, it is hard to deny that this album is down right interesting. Does it have the potential to the best album of the year? Probably not.
It does however show that this Dutch DJ is a sucker for trying new things and is all game for challenges beyond his comfort zone. Worlds #1 DJ may just have proved to be a really strong producer with the release of this album.

You can get the entire album on iTunes, here.

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