Ominous rumbling sounds of wind swirl in waves around us from the onset of Swedish House Mafia‘s “Lifetime” featuring Ty Dolla $ign & 070 Shake, making me wonder are we in a frozen tundra, a dusty desert, or in the middle of a tumultuous ocean sea about to capsize in a fishing vessel. Just as a frightening low electronic frequency starts to rise in pitch from the depths of hell and I begin to feel scared and alone, the track takes a sharp turn and is overtaken by a friendly sounding tremolo on a string instrument like the one used in the iconic theme song to “Doctor Zhivago”.
Its deliberating melancholic line drifts along with undiscernible vocal ad libs sprinkled on top. The chord progression moves slowly with a sustained note sung by a choir that eventually resolves in perfect harmony. An old-world sound, classical and even gypsy influence is prominent, which is intriguing and more welcoming compared to the opening seconds. It is like they were sharing some of their personal pain and horror, but that negativity was instantly sucked away by the light of their innate positivity. Within 30 seconds I felt that the Swedish House Mafia rose like a phoenix from the ashes reborn.
Now comes the fun and groovy part of the track. We hear the chorus first as the vocals enter rather than the verse. This is always a great idea to immediately draw in the listener. A technique that has become more and more popular, especially in a culture of TikTok viral sound bites that need to be concise, and easily digestible. For the hardcore SHM fans, you might get a real shock at this point. They have officially departed from their iconic melodic driven singalong anthems now. I hear The Weeknd’s influence loud and clear by this point. It is no surprise that the Swedish House Mafia is now working with his manager, Sal Slaiby. This beat is infectious, and it is a complete vibe. Perfectly constructed and balanced between all the instruments, bass, vocals, and futuristic sound effects. It is mysterious, seductive, and utterly cool. There is an occasional space gun sound that shoots off like we are in an old episode of “Star Trek” ala 1967 for a little vintage splash.
If you analyze these lyrics “Under the white light, once in a lifetime, watching the skyline, don’t change your mind while, you’re under the white light” you might come to the same conclusion as me – they have a second chance on life as a group and they don’t want to waste it. After announcing they would split on June 24, 2012, Swedish House Mafia reunited for a surprise closing set at the 20th anniversary of Ultra Music Festival 2018 in Miami, FL. Now the Swedish House Mafia is back even if it felt like we had to wait for a “Lifetime.”
Swedish House Mafia members include Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso & Steve Angello. “Lifetime” will be the leading single from their third studio album “Paradise Again” (expected November 2021) on Republic Records.