Representatives for late musician Tim Bergling—better known as Avicii—announced they will release the album he was producing before taking his own life. Titled TIM, this posthumous album will not be a “collection of musical leftovers,” but rather a fully conceptualized project by Avicii, according to The New York Times.
While releasing this album will likely provide a sense of peace for Avicii’s fans, friends and family, it is important for listeners to take the music for what it is and avoid overanalyzing it as they search for answers regarding his cause for suicide.
“He left behind a collection of nearly finished songs, along with notes, email conversations and text messages about the music,” a note from Team Avicii said, according to CNN.
It would be easy to misconstrue this statement and assume there will be explicit signs of what Avicii was dealing with leading up to his death. The mysticism surrounding posthumous work of any kind encourages people to look at the piece more speculatively because the artist isn’t there to comment on it.
TIM is literally all that is left of Avicii. With no suicide note or explanation for people to use as a tool to make sense of this tragedy, listeners may be tempted to take this music as his final words. They might be expecting some kind of revelation or moment where they can point at the music and say, “Oh, this is why.”
It’s crucial, however, that fans refrain from this type of behavior.
Firstly, suicide is often senseless and there is very rarely one straight-forward cause or reason people are driven to take their own lives. There is no way to sum up the complexity of mental illness on one single album, and listeners cannot place that immense pressure on any artist, living or dead.
Also, with the release of this project, it’s important to be sensitive to those closest to Avicii. Less than a year after his death, Avicii’s friends and family are still going through serious grief and confusion. They insist, “in the months before it happened, [Avicii] was in the best spirits they had seen him in for well over a year,” according to The New York Times.
Dwelling on the lyrics and demanding answers is not the place of the listener and even if done without malicious intent, it implies that the fans are more deserving of explanations than the people closest to him. It is disrespectful and untasteful, especially considering his family did not have to approve the release.
In addition, listeners need to remember that TIM would exist even if Avicii was still alive. There won’t be any subliminal messages or pointed answers because this music was never intended to be his last words.
“The producers say most songs were 75 to 80 percent done by the time of Avicii’s death,” according to The New York Times.
Reducing Avicii’s art, the very thing he defined himself by, to nothing more than the reason to why he ended up taking his own life is ill-mannered and an abhorrent defamation of his memory.
When TIM is released, listeners should understand it as a method of healing, not as an explanation. This album can be a gift to Avicii’s fans, which his family graciously decided to share, and it is essential that listeners cherish it as such.