Over the past few years, The Chainsmokers have been rising stars in the music world. The DJ duo of Drew Taggart and Alex Pall have produced hit after hit, making them a worldwide sensation. Hailing from New York City, the two met through a mutual friend. Although Pall was already making a living as a DJ, the two decided to join up and formed The Chainsmokers in early 2013. Their first song to bring them acclaim, “#Selfie,” was a top-20 single in several countries. From there, their careers have taken off.
The two released their first EP, “Collage,” last November. It was a preview of sorts for their coming album, titled “Memories … Do Not Open,” which was released in April this year. The new album has an upbeat sound while containing deeper meaning in the lyrics. It represents a new direction for the duo. The two have called the style “a blur between indie, pop, dance, and hip-hop,” which is very true across the album as a whole.
The singles “Something Just Like This,” featuring perennial favorite Coldplay, “Paris,” and “Closer” are some of the biggest hits of 2016 and ’17. These songs epitomize The Chainsmokers’ style – catchy lyrics with good beats and addictive melodies. And there are quite a few more gems that make the album excellent overall.
“The One” sets the precedent for the rest of the album. It is an emotional ballad about a conflict between two people who love each other but fail to recognize it. It’s a slow song that ups its tempo as it goes along. The slight beat drop, in which one of the main chords of EDM starts playing, fuses the lyrics with a beat that matches the song’s somber tone.
“Bloodstream,” third on the album, is arguably my favorite. Although it is rather cliché, the song speaks to me. Taggert’s normally smooth voice is filled with emotion. A soft electronic chord plays in the background, tying the song to the rest of the album but with a slightly different acoustic sound.
The brightest spot, though, is the seventh song, “It Won’t Kill Ya” featuring Louane, a largely unknown French indie singer and native of Paris. In this song, Taggart and Pall return to their roots. Right away there is a heavy influence of true EDM, and as the song builds you anxiously wait for the beat drop – and it delivers. Out of any song on the album, this is the best to jam to. I would not be surprised if it turns out to be one of the most popular on the album.
Like most albums, though, “Memories … Do Not Open” has a glaring weak spot. “Break Up Every Night” is a typical breakup song featuring Taggart complaining about relationship issues. The overall sound does not match up well with the rest of the album. I hate it say it, but the song feeds into the stereotype that The Chainsmokers sing songs about the irrelevant, small problems of privileged white people. Another track that is, in my opinion, atrocious, is “My Type” featuring Emily Warren. The song has one constant beat that gets old. It is unchanging in pitch, and the lyrics are repeated over and over, making it an automatic skip.
“Memories … Do Not Open” is a slightly new direction for The Chainsmokers. The new focus on pop-EDM may displease their hardcore fans, but it will likely expand their fanbase and bring them fame. EDM has been garnering much attention lately, and The Chainsmokers are reaping the full benefits by being at the forefront of that surge. Although I am a hardcore EDM listener myself, it is refreshing to see artists look for a new sound, and I think many others will agree.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.