Illenium Releases Long-Awaited Album ‘Ascend’

28 August 2019 - - The DJ List


On August 16, ILLENIUM (real name Nick Miller) released his third album Ascend on ASTRALWERKS. Like a phoenix’s journey through resurrection, this follows Ashes and Awake, and masterfully showcases his talent as a producer. This 17-track album features massive collaborations with the CHAINSMOKERS, SAID THE SKY, John Bellion, GOLDN, GEORGIA KU, FOY VANCE, OEKIIN, BAHARI, ANNA CLENDENING, ECHOS, Kameron Alexander, BLANKE, BIPOLAR SUNSHINE and Chandler Leighton. Illenium’s meteoric rise comes as no surprise. Since the release of his second album Awake in 2017, he has toured globally, headlined some of electronic music’s largest festivals and released chart-topping singles, all the while garnering a devoted fan base known as “Illenials.” The release of Ascend had many wondering if he could meet expectations, but it’s safe to say he has far surpassed them. Simply put, Ascend is a masterpiece, already rising to #1 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums.

The album is meant to be enjoyed in order as the songs are woven seamlessly together. It opens with emotional dialogue from The Breakfast Club.

“It’s unavoidable. It just happens. When you grow up, your heart dies.”

“Who cares?”

“I care.”

This sets the tone for the album - melancholic, emotive, pensive, with moments of optimism. “Hold On” features vocals from Georgia Ku and illustrates the struggle of finding peace as a relationship ends, knowing it’s over but being unable to let go. Right away this track pulled me in and reminded me of favorites from Illenium’s past work both in lyrical content and production, Next comes “Good Things Fall Apart,” which was released as a single prior to the album. Acoustic guitar, the vocals of singer/songwriter John Bellion, and uplifting synths make for the perfect pop song. The lyrics are so beautifully heartbreaking and I am so looking forward to singing my heart out when he plays this live. This theme of emotional lyrics over guitar-heavy synths carries through “Broken Ones” while “Every Piece of Me” and “Sad Songs” incorporate more subtle, acoustic instrumentals.

I heard “Take You Down” for the first time at Red Rocks in 2018. Prior to the show, he had posted the story behind this song about his struggle with addiction. He choked on his words as he told us how much it meant to be playing to a sold out crowd in the same spot where he overdosed six years prior. Through his recovery, he found his passion for music. It was an extremely emotional moment that I’ll never forget and because of this, “Take You Down” has become one of my favorite tracks on this album.

One of the more light hearted songs is “Crashing” featuring pop duo Bahari. The euphoric mood embodies the warmth of being love-drunk. The vibe shifts in “Blood” with hard hitting, dubstep-like synths. This “Pray,” and “Gorgeous” are sure to impress fans of his incorporation of heavier bass tracks in live sets and collaborations with the likes of EXCISION and KILL THE NOISE. Illenium joins forces with The Chainsmokers on “Takeaway,” which first debuted at EDC and has already amassed over 57M streams on Spotify.

Ascend closes with dialogue from Good Will Hunting over a beautiful orchestral arrangement in “Angel” that flows into “Lonely.” Combining every element of everything we love from Illenium - dynamic arrangement, evocative guitar, ambient vocals, and lyrics that being all of the feels - this track is the perfect way to end a beautiful piece of work.

Illenium will be touring across the North America this fall. Shows are sure to sell out so make sure to purchase your tickets. For more information on the Ascend Tour, visit Illenium’s website.

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About the Author

Ashley Nguyen
illenium astralwerks chainsmokers said the sky georgia ku foy vance bahari anna clendening echos blanke bipolar sunshine excision kill the noise